For the Love of Food - A Cinematic Portrayal of Oberlin’s Local Food System

Posted by Brad Masi
Brad Masi
Brad Masi is a graduate of Oberlin College and long-time Oberlinian. Previously
User is currently offline
on September 5, 2012 in Local Foods

FTLOF banner


Join the members of the Oberlin Slow Food Chapter and the Oberlin Farmers Market for a special presentation of For the Love of Food on Saturday, September 8th at 1pm at the Oberlin Public Library. This screening concludes the Oberlin Project’s summer film series.

 

I credit my experience at Oberlin College for cultivating my interest in local food systems. As a student, I first learned about opportunities to connect local food systems with community sustainability through courses in the Environmental Studies Program. Connecting with other students in the classes, we decided to apply our classroom learning to the community, leveraging our membership in the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) to start transitioning coop purchases to local farms in our backyard, beginning in 1990.

In many ways, OSCA presented an ideal forum for a local food purchasing effort. As students, we were involved directly in decisions affecting the eight dining cooperatives that OSCA managed. As member-owners, we had the ability to change purchasing decisions, having real financial and environmental impacts on our local community.

Last year, I had the privilege of working with local film-maker and Oberlin graduate Mika Johnson (OC ’00) to produce a documentary film about Oberlin’s local food efforts. As a part of a broader assessment of Oberlin’s local food system sponsored by the Oberlin Project, For the Love of Food chronicles the emergence of Oberlin’s local food efforts. Filmed in and around Oberlin, the film mixes striking agrarian landscapes with a diverse set of local heroes who each, in their own small ways, have woven together a rich and varied local food web. The film looks at examples of backyard homesteading, community gardening, farm-to-table initiatives in businesses and institutions, and the new culture of entrepreneurship around local food systems. In these economically depressing times, the film explores how one town’s efforts to engage local food systems contribute to a more resilient local economy and a more vibrant community.

As film-makers, it was great to turn the camera on our own community. We practiced what I like to call “emergent film-making”. Rather than laboring to find stories that matched a pre-determined narrative, we allowed the narrative to reveal itself through the stories and perspectives of Oberlin residents, farmers, entrepreneurs, dining managers, students, and retirees. The film by no means should be viewed as a complete portrayal of Oberlin’s local food efforts. For every story included, there are many more that we did not have space or time to include. The film provides a small set of openings to a much deeper and broader community effort, one that has changed and evolved even in the past year since much of the film was shot.

For the Love of Food also reflects an emerging form of “Community-Based Cinema”. The film captures a mosaic of perspectives told from the point of view of community members themselves. The production crew included college students, alumnae, residents, and high school students, consisting of both professional and non-professional participants. The film is intended to be shared in local venues where people can be inspired by what students, residents and businesses in their own community are doing. Community-based cinema stretches the film experience from passive viewing in a dark room to a tool for community engagement.  Mika Johnson’s experience with the production of the Amerikans, a series of portraits of colorful local characters residing in Northeast Ohio, presents another example of community-based cinema in Oberlin.

Overall, community-based cinema stretches the film experience from a passive viewing in a dark room to a tool for community engagement.

Join the members of the Oberlin Slow Food Chapter and the Oberlin Farmers Market for a special presentation of For the Love of Food on Saturday, September 8th at 1pm at the Oberlin Public Library. This screening concludes the Oberlin Project’s summer film series.


Tags: Untagged
Brad Masi is a graduate of Oberlin College and long-time Oberlinian. Previously the director of the New Agrarian Center, he is currently a freelance writer, consultant, teacher, and filmmaker specializing in local food systems.

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest
Guest July 24, 2014

city-of-oberlin-logooberlin-college-logo

Climate Positive Participant-Logo

TwitterFacebookYoutube