December 17, 1903 at 10:35 the Wright brothers flew for the first time in the exceptionally lovely dunes of Kitty Hawk, NC. A rather weak performance of 120 feet soon septupled after many attempts by the days-end to almost three football fields. This phenomenon of flight precipitated quite a trend. Only 17 years earlier the German inventor Karl Benz released the first car into the world, again rather trendy still. The steam engine became an active people mover in 1698 thanks to Thomas Savery, the Greeks and the Romans. I rail-travel quite a bit and apparently it all started in about 600BC when those early civilizations began moving loads by hand on such tracks. Before tracks, human mobility was limited to only three other options. Domesticated horses with chariots date in burial findings to about 2000BC. Leaving two of my favorite types of travel: sailing and walking. Yes, sailing dates back to 4000BC thanks to the Egyptians. Between 3000BC and 2000BC sailing had become rather popular in trade both on water and ice.
Walking, dating to the beginning of humanity, instigates my personal research in Sense of Place, for it becomes the catalyst in place connections. The ability to leave a place of security, family, comfort and beauty, over thousands of years triggered intrinsic needs for finding and securing ourselves back to those connections of security. Certainly being banned from the Garden of Eden, sent to walk off for food and family, yet to come back for spiritual safety and sacrifice to God, long ago set into our minds the need to be connected with places. Our first experience of leaving “place” wasn’t so great. Legs: evil appendages that carry us away from home and out into a dangerous sinful world. Yet, somehow we have become a rather mobile species, exponentially really. With each invent of mobility time decreases while the expansion of distance increases. The Arctic Tern with the longest migration of any species flies 21,750 miles each year. That’s just about the circumference of the Earth. I have a friend doing that this week for a funeral in Australia. Pish-Posh Arctic Tern, says I.
We don’t really recognize it however, the need for, the irony of, or the variations in others applications to mobility[GW1] . I arrived last Thursday evening in Newport, RI for a weekend of racing sailboats at the annual New York Yacht Club Regatta. I drove. Hitting some construction along the way stretched my trip from 12 hours to just over 16. Oh the ridicule I received. “You drove”! “Why”! “Why didn’t you fly”! I like long drives, it’s therapeutic, I contemplate, I leave when I want, I don’t wait in lines, etc. But the shock and horror on the faces of my fellow crew was palpable. These…the same lads who sailed the boat from Southern Maryland, taking over three days to cover half the distance I covered in 16 hours.
My crew’s “crazy” is easily applied to our Mobile Farmers Market. If we delivered fresh vegetables to a posh Chicago community full of soccer moms we would call it: New Urbanism, carbon sensitive, environmentally responsible or simply great marketing – all true. Deliver it to inner cities or low-income areas and now it’s: Socialism, outreach and welfare – not all true. More so, what if it where Socialism? Last week I found myself deep into a few of Jack London’s essays (don’t judge). He would argue that the converse of socialism is individualism. Additionally, he would argue that individualism isn’t very pretty. So, we deliver food. It’s our niche. Not so much a social movement, more so innovation. We started delivering CSA baskets to Berrien County residence’s front doors and talking about health coupled with keeping food local. We expanded to a Mobile Farmers Market in communities without access to fresh food (USDA Food Deserts). This year we are offering the CSA baskets to one of those same communities set inside a Food Desert, triggering a pilot study for the State of Michigan. And it’s exciting! Resulting research will show if a different food delivery mechanism can be successful in supporting healthy eating throughout communities in the US where local options or human mobility is limited.
Mobility now becomes a matter of opinion, with food mobility having more than one face. The Student Gardens is simply adding to the variety of options in moving food around the region vs. moving food out of the region. Which makes me wonder, will I read some day deep at the bottom of the Internet “Andrews University Student Gardens, at 8:00 am on June 12, 2015 changed availability of food with mobility of food, creating the trend we now call….”