My participation in Storytelling to Change the World was invaluable as experience in community-engaged scholarship. Having lived, studied and worked in this community for almost two decades, and as a alumni, staff member and graduate student at the University of Guelph, I have been involved in a number of professional, volunteer, artistic and academic endeavours on campus and in the city. Participating in the facilitation and devising of this project lead to a heightened awareness of community.
One of the ways to uncover and unravel the narratives of community is to find the common narratives of individuals. Every one of us has a narrative of self which includes a narrative of food. Our food narrative is embedded in our very existence as a life-sustaining force. Food narratives are not only common to our humanity, but they are something that connects us to other beings and our natural systems. By unraveling the narratives of food, we become more aware of our selves, our community, and our world. Through an analysis of the narrative of food in our community we start to see the interconnections of networks and peoples, as well as the politics behind the spaces and places, how social policies are negotiated, established and played out.
It is through our participation in the narratives of food and through food, the narratives of space and community that we can become dialogically aware. Only through active participation are we able to appreciate that community is built upon stories; intricate structures and systems of communication and information that flow between people, nodes and networks. As Friere suggests, entering this dialogue demands love, respect and humility, “how can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own? How can I dialogue if I regard myself as apart from others” (71). As a participant in these narratives, it is essential to recognize the interests that shape what stories get told, be they political or consumerist. These imposed narratives shape our everyday existence. It is important for us in terms of awareness and human rights to realize what is contributing to the narrative of community and what is shaping our personal narratives, and to participate in this dialogue, with humility.
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