After getting recommendations from three friends independently I felt obliged to check out Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (It's still on hulu until June 5th). Definitely well worth the 4+ hours. You've got the drama of clashing personalities and the group hug scenes perfected by a decade of reality TV, but this show simply has the traction to carry real change beyond the scope of the show itself. I've decided it's not actually reality TV at all, but a documentary of a grassroots movement in progress.
Could this be a revolution that is televised after all? (that is, if you can look passed the irony of sponsorship from Healthy Choices pre-packaged dinners). The prize selection committee at TED seemed to think so, and Jamie Oliver's acceptance speech is a good introduction to what he's up to.
|Pullman Square in Huntington, West Virginia. Flickr Credit: Sarah.WV|
This movement needed a physical space to launch from. It needed Jamie's Kitchen (now Huntington's Kitchen) to be, not only a useful space for gathering, but an architectural expression of the whole idea. It is noteworthy that he chose the very center of the city, right off the beautiful Pullman Square on 3rd Avenue, for the location.
When I drove across the country the summer before last, I made a point to ask everyone I met this question: "where is the very center of your town?"
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Jamie also knows that public space is the lifeblood of any grassroots movement. He closed down the street out in front of the kitchen and set up forty tables for one big cooking lesson. He organized a flash mob in the central gathering area of Marshall University to drum up interest from students. Once again, the center counts. The airwaves and cables could get his message into every private living room and every driver's seat, but the true source of energy happened when crowds united in one place. The fact that this occurred outside on public streets meant the whole city was the arena.
Right, I know the show is really about food. But it's also about place. These are the questions that I'm naturally asking while I watched. How can we physically structure our communities so that someone like Jamie can come in and have a fighting chance at starting a revolution?