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Friday July 25th 2014

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Talk It Out

By Sarah McCartan

The best way to arrive at sustainable solutions is to have a few snacks and refreshments, sit down, get comfortable and talk it out—at least that is what local non-profit group Think Beyond suggests. This idea acts as the driver for their community-centered quarterly dialogues. Think Beyond invites all members of the community who are interested in idea-generating conversations to join in and share their individual perspectives with the common goal of creating a more sustainable Pensacola.

“Our goal is to bring innovative ideas to a forum where people can have meaningful conversations,” explained Mona Amodeo, Think Beyond chair. “We want to connect, inspire and engage people in our community.”

Their next Quarterly Community Dialogue takes place Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Pensacola Museum of Art. This evening’s subject of conversation is centered on the notion of “Food as Fuel for Change.”

“This Community Dialogue is focused on a topic that many are talking about today—food. When we looked at how to bring this topic to the dialogue, the board brainstormed people and programs that we thought offered innovative ideas to using food as ‘fuel for change.’ We think they have something important to say,” Amodeo said.

The evening will include roundtable discussions along with three special guest speakers, each of whom are heavily involved in the local food movement in a unique capacity and have been invited to share their insights.

Hilary M. Gilles, manager of Palafox Market in Downtown Pensacola, will be sharing her experience with the market, its growth and the impact it is having on life, food and change for Pensacola.

“The Palafox Market, now in its sixth season, has become an integral part of the community and vice versa,” said Gilles. “Our customers rely on the market for local produce and fresh foods and the market vendors have grown and continue to expand their offerings due to the demand from the local community. It really is a win-win situation.”

On top of his role as the Associate Director of the University of West Florida Honors program, Dr. Greg Tomso is the faculty sponsor of the Student Community Garden Club, where he remains actively involved in the university’s garden projects. The garden currently has over 1000 square feet of growing space, all of which has recently been planted for the fall season. The garden is also integrated into the curricula of several classes on campus.

Tomso will be sharing his knowledge regarding how gardens can act as integral community foundations, as well as bringing to light issues in food politics and policy—including the debate surrounding labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms.

“I’ll be talking about Pensacola’s growing local food movement with an emphasis on topics such as food security, food sovereignty, and community gardening,” said Tomso. “I firmly believe that, in this day and age, gardening is a political act. I’ll also be talking about how students at UWF are undertaking food-related research projects in our community.”

Another community garden guru, Judge Casey Rodgers, will be bringing her expertise to the table. Judge Rodgers is the Chief Judge for the United States District Court and founder of ReEnty Alliance Pensacola, an innovative federal program that joins mentor attorneys with former prisoners as they work together on community gardens.

“Ultimately, we want to shine a light on people who are making a difference through what they are doing or have ideas about what they would like to do,” said Amodeo. “Through these conversations we hope to contribute to making our community a healthy, vibrant place, today and for future generations.”

THINK BEYOND QUARTERLY COMMUNITY DIALOGUE
WHEN: 5:30 – 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.
COST: Free
DETAILS: thinkbeyond.org