Mar 12: Inspire lecture: Food = Community

Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Will Allen, Stephen Ritz, and Jennifer Flanagan.

Food = Community.  By investing in healthy, fresh and local food, we can create jobs, improve public health, connect communities, teach useful skills, and reduce food waste.  Food connects all of us and is central to some of our region’s most pressing issues.  Join the Green Building Alliance to learn how an urban farmer, a social entrepreneur, and a teacher are using food as a key to creating more livable places for all.

5 – 8 p.m. in the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at Hill House Kaufmann Center, 1825 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.  Doors open at 5 p.m. to enjoy food, beer, wine, networking, and music.  Presentations begin promptly at 6 p.m.  Dessert, coffee, and a book signing will immediately follow the presentations.)  This time, the event will also feature food tastings from Community Kitchen Pittsburgh and craft beer from a local brewery!
Tickets start at $20. If this does not fit your budget, please contact us and we can arrange for a discounted rate. Learn more and register here (Online registration closes at 2:00 p.m. on March 11. General admission is available on-site from 5 p.m.).

Will Allen Will Allen has made it his life’s work to change the vast American food distribution system, with its propensity to cater cheap, highly-processed food to low-income urban populations, but his 20-year-old urban farm humbly squeezes bushels of vegetables and hundreds of fish and livestock onto a three-acre plot.  A pro-basketball player turned farmer, Allen founded Growing Power in 1993 to teach Milwaukee city-dwellers about healthy food production while in turn providing what was then a neighborhood food desert with fresh produce.  Today, Allen’s vision to teach and farm creatively has spread to numerous farms in and around Milwaukee, inspiring partners from diverse backgrounds to provide local communities with affordable food through closed-loop farming practices.  No less a teacher than a farmer, Allen instructs his partners in the Good Food Movement how to build wholesome communities by growing wholesome food.  You can learn more about Will Allen here.
Jen Flanagan
Jennifer Flanagan co-founded Pittsburgh Community Kitchen, a nonprofit food service company with a fully- integrated culinary-based workforce development program for adults with barriers to employment. Flanagan oversees the agency’s training programming and is responsible for fundraising, program evaluation, and community partnerships.  Since launch, she has secured $1.2 million in start-up and gap funding and together with her co-director, they have secured over $2 million in food service contracts.  They focus services on congregate and institutional food services, in particular those serving at risk or low-income individuals, and on ensuring that children and families have access to nutritious, freshly prepared food, regardless of their economic situation.
Prior to launching the Kitchen enterprise, Flanagan worked at Allegheny County Department of Human Services on workforce development initiatives for individuals coming out of the Allegheny County Jail.  Previous experience also includes securing and managing federal grants and multi-state demonstration projects for the health care and educational sectors, as well as 10 years spent in corporate marketing and communications. 
Stephen Ritz is the perfect person to emcee this lecture.  As a former Inspire Speakers Series presenter, TED Talker, and Huffington Post Blogger, Ritz’s enthusiasm and passion for the power of healthy, locally grown foods is sure to ignite the audience.  Ritz is a South Bronx educator / administrator who believes that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. Ritz has led his students to grow healthy food in their own community while creating jobs and increasing school attendance.  So far, his students and community members have grown more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx.  Stephen’s TEDx Manhattan Talk was ranked in the Top 25 Food/Education TED Talks of all time and is used globally for teacher training and workforce development.  As this Inspire Speakers Series lecture’s emcee, Ritz will lead us through the event, apply some context to the lecture topics, and facilitate the Q&A session.  You can learn more about Stephen here and here.

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