[Martin Luther King, Jr.’s] vision was for change that was more revolutionary than mere reform: he cited systematic flaws of "racism, poverty, militarism and materialism", and according to an article about his 1968 Poor People's Campaign, argued that "... reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced".
On Saturday, some Buttercup Farms staff were included in an Ashoka event at the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville. They, of course, looked forward to meeting Buzz Lightyear and Woody, and were excited when they saw that Susan Sarandon would also be there, but they found more to spur their enthusiasm when they arrived at the event.
The event’s purpose was to promote the social entrepreneurship fostered by Ashoka, which is an organization dedicated to “investing in new solutions for our world’s toughest problems.” The event brought together academics, corporate executives, policy makers, investors and leading citizen groups from all over the world. For 30 years, Ashoka has harnessed the support of such networks to foster the endeavors of citizens to solve societal problems, rather than relying solely on government programs or the business community. The conference stressed the strong demand throughout the world for more people to be involved in caring for one another.
I have often discussed in this column how our farm works because it is a community and it is integrally linked to a larger community. Because of our interdependence, we are able to overcome obstacles that would otherwise seem insurmountable. Over the years, the farm has attracted exchange students from France, Spain, Germany, Austria, and England. They have gathered farming skills, as well as experience with the diversity and entrepreneurship that characterize the United States. As a result, they returned to their respective countries with fresh perspectives.
Most recently, Rosi, an agriculture student from Peru, has interned with us. Her desire to serve the international community by sharing her love for farming is an inspiration to us all. Her experiences here have opened her eyes to possibilities that are available to her for carrying out that dream.
As we ponder the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend, we can appreciate how far the world has come in the years since he crusaded for a more just and caring global community. The existence of an organization like Ashoka that supports citizen efforts to improve the lot of others indicates progress toward the societal reconstruction that he advocated.
As global citizens, we contribute to that progress through our own local efforts to connect with others in communities characterized by justice and compassion.