Starting a Conversation with Lindsay Harris – Feb.15, 2019

11:30 -12:30 pm
Arts 368

Passionate Interests and Community Decision Making: Increasing Food Security in Kamloops, BC

Kamloops, BC is renowned for its community investment in food security – home to Canada’s oldest grassroots food policy council, it also has well-established municipal support for food security programs. Since its formation in 1995, the Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC) has collectively made decisions about the initiatives it values, including informal conversations over potlucks, strategic planning and participation in formal community consultation processes. These ongoing processes of deliberation reflect what Bruno Latour describes as the “passionate interests” of actors: intense attachments between members assembled around matters of concern that result in a reconceptualization of “value” as impromptu, mobile, and intransitive. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research conducted with the KFPC since 2017, I situate the network’s decision-making and valuation practices in the broader historical context of agricultural disinvestment in the Kamloops region. As long-term economic and regulatory trends have eroded production and diversity in the sector, the priorities and interests of KFPC have grown more expansive despite the constraints that limit the possibilities of their work. I argue that, as members of the Kamloops food system network assemble around their urgent matters of concern, other “things” function as decision makers alongside them: past and current agricultural infrastructure, consultative planning documents, and indeed, the land itself. Though the network often takes up initiatives that fundamentally don’t compute (in terms of dollars or calories), they erode reliance on dispassionate calculation and render alternative processes of valuation transparent.

Lindsay Harris is a community-based researcher living, eating and gardening with her daughter and partner in Kamloops, BC. Her research interests are focused on grassroots decision-making, food security and rural development in the BC Interior.