Timeout is Over

I hope this post finds you in good health.

The world has changed a lot since I last posted! In March, my colleague Torsten Kjellstrand and I were planning a trip to the Missouri Bootheel region to collect stories and photographs of farmers and community members, but the pandemic arrived and forced a stop to this plan. We hope to make the trip once it’s deemed safe to do so. When we do make the journey, we’ll share the experience with you in the form of photographs and video footage.

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, which continues to hover over the planet and the social unrest gripping our nation, I’ve found myself needing to take a step back, to slow down, and to devote more time and energy toward supporting my family and loved ones in whatever way I can as we, like many of you, grapple with the uncertainty and chaos currently dominating daily life. Most of my efforts to support those I care about have felt inadequate at best. Recently, I have felt emotionally and physically drained by my Groundhog-Day-like routine. But if nothing else, I’ve tried to create a space where I can listen to and encourage family and friends, even when I’m not sure how to respond or resolve their concerns. The silver lining in all of this is: I may emerge a better listener and, as a result, a better husband, father, son, and friend. Fingers crossed!

My apologies for rambling on … I just thought I should take a minute to brief you on what I’ve been up to since my last post. Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to share some information related to the Cultivating Justice project.

I’d like to thank Sylvia-Chan Malik and Badi Malik for inviting Laura Lawson and me to address a group of avid gardeners and food activists via a Zoom meeting, which took place on Sunday, July 5. The group meets bi-weekly on Sundays to discuss topics related to vegetable gardening. Laura and I were invited to discuss Cultivating Justice, the multiplatform documentary project we’re developing that chronicles the history of African Americans in agriculture, starting with the emancipation and continuing to current times. We were excited to engage with people from different parts of the country, including California, Michigan, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Laura and I came away from the Zoom meeting feeling energized and grateful for the opportunity to converse with such a thoughtful and informed group! Additionally, we are taking this time to explore alternative ways to produce content for the blog while also remaining in semi-shutdown mode due to the pandemic. We’re confident we can and look forward to the challenge!

Moving on, in keeping with a major focus of this blog, which is to share information, I’d like to draw your attention to two recently published articles and one short documentary I feel are worth exploring. Blog contributor and Cultivating Justice cofounder, Laura Lawson, is cited in the first article published in Mother Jones. The second article is also published in Mother Jones and addresses the issue of land tenure. In keeping with the theme of tenure, How Black Americans Were Robbed of their Land, is a short documentary I recently discovered. Produced by the Atlantic in 2019, the film documents discriminatory practices faced by black farmers that extended over several decades and ultimately resulted in the Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit brought by black farmers against the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) in 1999.


Soon to come … a farmer’s profile!

Until then, be well.

Published by will atwater

I'm a documentarian and my latest project is focused on the history of African Americans in agriculture.

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