Another rainbow week in October

Not just the leaves, which are gorgeous, but my calendar. Oh, what would I do without you?

Less, maybe?  :P

It makes me look crazy, but I color-code my calendars so I can look forward or backward and understand at a glance whether I’m actually spending my time the way I want to be spending my time. There’s a whole separate spreadsheet with quarterly goals and approximate hours/week in each area. Notice the light blue: “be well” and red “my loves.” I’m lucky; these colors are actually underrepresented since they tend to overlap with a lot of the rest of my life. I work with people I love and do what I can to treat myself and my body kindly even while working.

It’s kind of like these two juicy bits, via the ever-inspiring Maria P.:

How to live. How to get the most life… . How to extract its honey from the flower of the world. That is my every-day business. I am as busy as a bee about it. I ramble all over the fields on that errand, and am never so happy as when I feel myself heavy with honey and wax.

– Thoreau

and this:

Dividing the day between “work” and “leisure” and then measuring how many hours is spent at each activity doesn’t provide us a reliable guide to what we really care about, which is how much of our time we get to spend doing things we find rewarding and fulfilling. It turns out that many people have only a limited appetite for “leisure” in the sense of spending their days at the beach or on the golf course. Rather, they’re interested in pursuing creative or philanthropic activities that, when pursued in earnest wind up looking a lot like having a job.

Timothy Lee

I’m thankful for my privilege.

October 21, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: July 8, 2012

July 8, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: July 1, 2012

July 1, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: June 17, 2012

June 17, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: June 13, 2012

June 13, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012   No Comments

Pink salmon cakes


It’s so nice to be cooking again and to have a friend to cook for. Salmon cakes, steamed broccoli, and plain quick quinoa. Quick, easy, yummy.

Salmon cakes: one can wild pink salmon, one egg, little bit flour, little bit parsley, one stalk celery, leftover half onion, spring onion we were trying to finish, splash of sesame oil, sprinkle salt. Makes six.

I don’t know a ton about sustainable seafood, but I have it on good authority (clever fish scientist friends + monterey bay aquarium) that pink salmon’s an especially good choice. Not pricey either. 

January 12, 2012   No Comments

Essay: FoodLab Detroit as a Social Movement Guild?

A brief section from a long paper I wrote for a course I took in Field Research this semester in the Management and Organization department at the business school at UM. The class was wonderful, thanks to great group of classmates, and also in large part due to our really wonderful instructor Wayne Baker.

Each of us chose a field site for study and took detailed field notes over the course of the semester. Wayne read all our notes and gave us weekly feedback. It was so valuable to my development as an ethnographer to have someone else looking over my shoulder, especially someone who was completely “fresh” to my field.

I chose to focus on FoodLab Detroit (formerly the Metro Detroit Good Food Entrepreneurs) — the group of triple-bottom-line food entrepreneurs that I’ve been working with in Detroit. In a lot of ways, it become something of an auto-ethnography… so much so that I titled the second section “Origins of this Me-search Project.”

Table of contents is below for context, then just a very very short section. Interested to hear what folks think.


The Good Food Movements: Peeking Inside the Lumpy Tent……….. 3

Origins of this “Me”-search Project……….. 5

Journey into Detroit’s Good Food Movement……….. 5

Research and Activism……….. 7

Background on FoodLab Detroit ……….. 9

History and Founding……….. 9

Network boundaries and characteristics……….. 14

FoodLab and Race……….. 15

FoodLab as a social network……….. 18

Networking a Network……….. 18

Mapping the FoodLab network……….. 20

Understanding the periphery……….. 20

Bridging two cliques……….. 22

What’s in a Tie?……….. 26

Information & Advice…………….. 26

Shared Resources…………….. 28

Emotional Support…………….. 30

Social Pressure…………….. 30

All networks not made equal……….. 31

FoodLab as a Social Movement Guild……….. 34

More than the sum of parts……….. 34

Social Movement Organization versus Social Movement Guild……….. 36

Framing within a social movement guild……….. 39

Frame disputes and network structure…………….. 41

A Dispute about Ethics…………….. 43

FoodLab as a movement broker……….. 48

From the parts, to the whole, to the whole in context……….. 48

FoodLab bridges a divided good food field……….. 49

FoodLab and Tertius Iungens…………….. 53

Further Questions……….. 55

Implications……….. 57

For FoodLab……….. 57

For entrepreneurship in Good Food Movements……….. 58

Social Movement Organization versus Social Movement Guild

FoodLab Detroit has some of the markings of an emerging social movement organization (SMO). Snow, Soule and Kriesi (2003) define a social movements as:

Collectivities acting with some degree of organization and continuity outside of institutional or organizational channels for the purpose of challenging or defending extant authority, whether it is institutionally or culturally based, in the group, organization, society, culture, or world order of which they are a part. (P. 7)

Social movement organizations are generally conceived as formal organizations that work to implement the goals of a movement (Caniglia and Carmin 2005). Emerging social movement groups (ESMG) are SMOs who are “in the process of becoming and defining themselves. They are works in progress” (Blee and Currier 2005: 129) Yet FoodLab differs from typical conceptions of social movement organizations (even those in the process of forming) because it does not exist to implement the goals of a particular movement, but rather to propagate the use of a skill or process (good food entrepreneurship – or social entrepreneurship with some food component) in service of multiple goals defined and chosen by individual entrepreneurs. This structure seems to make sense given the fragmented landscape of movements related to good food (see Figure 8 below).

Figure 8: Social Movements Related to Good Food (in Flora 2009)

The  relationship between social movements, social entrepreneurship, and social change is contested. Mair & Marti (2006) suggest that social movement literature may be a useful lens through which to examine the process of social entrepreneurship because “both social movements and social entrepreneurship are concerned with social transformation.” Yet as Starr (2010) and others have pointed out, social entrepreneurship  and social movements are ultimately different models of social change (Martin and Osberg 2007; Thekaekara and Thekaekara 2006).

Critiques of entrepreneurial approaches to transformation within good food movements abound. Food systems academics have noted that purely market-based or entrepreneurial approaches to food systems change may fail to address or may even exacerbate issues such as food security for the most vulnerable and racial and cultural injustice (Allen et. al. 2003). Critics of entrepreneurship as a food movement strategy also suggest that a reliance on market and consumer-driven approaches to change may encourage “individualized, depoliticized behavior” at the expense of attempts at structural change (Donald 2008). Starr (2010) responds to this argument with a catalogue of the strength of the social entrepreneurship approach:

Responding to a political landscape that seems to offer only dead ends, energetic social entrepreneurs are making things happen with resolute utopianism. They are creating space, enabling new experiences, innovating, and providing meaningful jobs for other people who want to work their values. Social entrepreneurship as an approach to social change is personalistic, isolated, and unaccountable, but also experimental, decentralized, agile, and multi-issue. And entrepreneurs know that cultural relevance is necessary to their success, a lesson many social movements refuse to learn. (P. 486)

Notably, FoodLab members have described the network as a way to hold one another accountable to individual missions and shared values through public standards and audits, social pressure, and a shared value of “transparency.”

Rather than a social movement organization, FoodLab could be considered an emerging social movement guild (SMG). The term “guild” implies an association of craftsman organized around a common skill or craft. Guilds incorporate systems of apprenticeships to build skills and competence among members, they often enforce mutually agreed-upon standards of accountability, they may share resources and share a collective identity, yet guild members themselves are independent and may apply have different motivations and ways of applying their shared trade. An SMG, as opposed to a traditional guild, prepares members to use their craft in the service of social change rather than maintaining the status quo: specifically “challenging or defending extant authority, whether it is institutionally or culturally based, in the group, organization, society, culture, or world order of which they are a part” (Snow, Soule, Kriesi 2003: 7).

December 14, 2011   2 Comments