CBU was proud to be the host for the 4th annual Mid-South Farm to Table Conference on February 4th. Established in 2011, the conference is designed to provide a forum for farmers, consumers, entrepreneurs and other local food stakeholders to discuss ideas for developing the local food system of Memphis and the Mid-South. This year we welcomed a number of farmers, policy advocates, and scholars from across the region to discuss topics including, but not limited to, urban homesteading, mushroom cultivation, faith-based food justice initiatives, and the role universities can play in building sustainable local food systems. This year’s keynote speakers were Nat Turner, founder of Our School at Blair Grocery in New Orleans; and Chef Miles McMath, Director of Culinary Operations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The Multicultural Committee and students in the Sociology Minor sponsored a “Let’s Talk About Race” program on the student experience of race. A diverse group of students shared their personal stories and insights to help the CBU community better understand how race and ethnicity influence daily life. The panelists spoke about the limits of stereotypes and educated the audience on common race-based myths in hopes of increasing understanding for our student population. As one panelist explained ‘Not all Asians study every weekend’ and, although this comment belies one of the more positive stereotypes, inaccurate generalizations about a group discount the true diversity within a racial or ethnic group.
The 2014 Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium was held at CBU’s University Theater on March 27th. The symposium seeks to continue Vanderhaar’s legacy by bringing a noted scholar or peace activist to Memphis each year to address social and moral issues related to peace and justice and/or Catholic social teaching.This year’s symposium featured Malik Yakini speaking on the topic of “Fostering a Just Food System.” Yakini is a founder and the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. He views the “good food revolution” as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality. This year’s Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium, the ninth in the symposium’s history, was co-presented by GrowMemphis. For more information on the 2014 Vanderhaar Symposium visit www.gvanderhaar.org.
CBU and Rhodes College student groups presented their campus vibrancy and Memphis engagement projects and ideas during the “Livable Campus, Livable City” breakout session, a new component of the Livable Memphis organization’s annual neighborhood leaders summit hosted this year at CBU by the Living Learning Communities. More than 40 students and professors heard presentations about the Sustainability Coalition and its Green Fund initiative, a campus food survey petition, the Food Recovery Network concept, Rhodes College’s Community Garden and Farmers’ Market, the CBU Honors’ Program’s September of Service and Brothers’ Keepers, and B.A.M. – Becoming a Memphian. After the session, students and professors enjoyed a lunch to discuss their ideas further provided by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. More than 80 neighborhood activists from around the city attended the summit to learn more about Neighborsourcing, Tactical Urbanism, and the In Our Back Yard funding platform to support their efforts to make their neighborhoods even better places to live.
Gabriel Bol Deng, a former Lost Boy of Sudan, spoke to students about the unbelievable obstacles he overcame in life. Ten years old when North Sudanese Murahileen militiamen led a violent attack on his village of Ariang in South Sudan in 1987, he fled into a forest, not knowing the fate of his parents or siblings. After his escape, Gabriel embarked on a perilous four-month long journey, crossing the Nile River and untold miles of desert; surviving disease, and devastating hunger to reach the Dimma Refugee Camp in Ethiopia. In 1988, he had a life-changing dream in which he was reminded of his parents’ charge to him as a young boy: that he could move mountains with the power of hope. This mantra continues to guide Gabriel.
Documented in his film Rebuilding Hope, Deng returned to his war-torn home in 2007 to search for his family, rebuild Sudanese schools — including the Ariang School in his hometown — and provide health services for local residents. Today, instead of traveling for survival as he once did as a refugee, Gabriel now travels to inspire others with the mantra that helped him overcome extraordinary odds: Resilience, respect, a positive attitude, hard work, and the power of dreams can empower individuals to reach their full potential. has built a reputation as an informative and passionate public speaker in an effort to create awareness of the suffering of the millions of people in his native Sudan.