After a year in which the KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation Social Justice Committee grew, harvested and donated over a ton of organic produce and garnered three awards, they will honor the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. with a weekend long education and advocacy program focused on food justice and sustainability Jan. 13-15. Among the highlights are a Friday night service, a Saturday panel discussion and Sunday workshops on local food production and urban ecology. All events are held at KAMII at 1100 East Hyde Park Boulevard and are free and open to the public. Leading off the weekend, during services Friday night Jan. 13, Doriane C. Miller, M.D., Director, Center for Community Health and Vitality, University of Chicago Medical Center, will speak on "Health and Food Justice: Observations From The South Side." Services will begin at 8 p.m.
A food distribution system designed and presented by a team of graduate students from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning will be the starting point and catalyst for the Saturday afternoon, Jan. 14 panel discussion. Exploring solutions for getting locally grown food from plant to plate will be the panel's focus. Distinguished panelists include Connie Spreen - Cofounder and Executive Director of the Experimental Station, Ken Dunn - Founder and Director of the Resource Center, Doriane C. Miller, M.D. - Director, Center for Community Health and Vitality, University of Chicago Medical Center, Deb Pratt - KAMII White Rock Gleaning Coordinator, Donna Peace - KAMII Farmer and Seneca Kern - We Farm America and Community Outreach Coordinator, Growing Home. Architect and KAMII Social Justice Committee chair Robert Nevel will be the discussion moderator. Sunday, Jan. 15 starting at 11 a.m. and continuing throughout the day there will be workshops led by urban agricultural activists, local authorities, practitioners and chefs from such well known organizations as Growing Home, We Farm America, The Urban Canopy, Yoga for Recovery, Spice, Counter Culture Coffee, Urban Worm Girl and Lake Street Landscape Supply.
"Since the spring of 2009 the KAMII Social Justice Committee, along with our interfaith community partners, has transformed unproductive congregational lawns into food producing gardens. Our 2011 harvest was remarkable, exceeding 2,300 pounds. We were also honored with three significant awards; the Union for Reform Judaism's Irving J. Fain Social Action Award, the Urban Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medical Center's GOURD Award and 1st Place City Wide In the 55th Annual Chicago Mayor's Landscape Awards Program. The upcoming MLK weekend educational and advocacy program will provide an inspirational jump start to the 2012 growing season," stated Nevel.
KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation, founded in 1847 and the oldest Jewish congregation in the Midwest, is known for its innovative Jewish music, educational programming for adults and children and strong commitment to social justice. The Congregation is also known for its landmark, Byzantine inspired sanctuary at Greenwood Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, across the street from President Obama's house. For more information visit www.KAMII.org.