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The Stop’s Summer Reading List

It’s been a long, hot, and busy summer here at The Stop. We’ve brought thousands of people together around fresh produce at our community gardens and Farmers’ Market, made hundreds of referrals through our Community Advocacy Office, and we’ve just launched an innovative new Economic Justice program.

There’s a lot on the go, but we’re still making space to read up on our favorite topics—social justice, change-making, and of course, food!

Here’s what a few Stop staff members have been reading in their spare time. From an examination of philanthropy’s colonial dynamics, to a “how-to” zine on opening a feminist restaurant, we think you’ll find at least one great new read to take to the park.

Peachtree Boucaud, Green Barn Manager

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land — Leah Penniman

I met Leah and some of the Soul Fire Farm members at the first Black Farmers and Urban Growers conference I attended in Oakland, California. Their commitment to “Liberation on the Land” is exactly how the Soul Fire team works.  This book is a practical guide to supporting the development of a farm business, while continuing the work of Black and Indigenous solidarity—or the connection of Indigenous cultures and how they support each other.

Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement — Monica M. White

A road map supporting land-based work in the Black community with a clear connection to farmers in the South (Mississippi), the mass migration of the Black community into the North, and the continued and resurgence of agriculture as a site of resistance.  Plus some huge recognition of projects in Detroit, Chicago and New York City.

Joanna Pawelkiewicz, Community Advocacy Team Lead

How to Start a Feminist Restaurant — Alexandra Ketchum

Imagine my delight when I discovered a brick and mortar bookstore with a zine section! While I don’t aspire to be a restaurateur, it was super fascinating to read about the inner workings of the food industry through a feminist lens. Ketchum is a PhD candidate at McGill’s Department of History and is focusing on feminist cafes and restaurants. Within a svelte 29 pages, the zine covers three main themes: setting the mission, money/capitalism and connections with the community.

That Time I Loved You — Carrianne Leung

I rarely read fiction, so I was a bit skeptical when a friend who majored in Lit gave me this as a birthday present. Although my life experiences are different than Leung’s—I grew up in a different suburb, a different decade, and come from a different ethno-cultural group—the world that author describes in the book was eerily familiar.

Set in 1979, the book gives us glimpses into the lives of various 1st and 2nd generation immigrant families in suburban Scarborough. The main narrator is June, a Chinese-Canadian middle schooler, but we also events unfold from the perspectives of her friends and neighbours. If I had to sum up the book in 3 words, I would say: intimate, beautiful and devastating. I read That Time I Loved You at my lunch break over a series of weeks and it brought me to tears on several occasions.

I feel that my review doesn’t do this book justice, so I’m including my favorite quote from the back cover: “Amazing, heartbreaking, probing, tender; apocalyptic, in the truest sense.  Behind the façade live characters imprisoned by sadness and despair, battling racism and social injustice, yet relentless in their pursuits of love.”– Yasuki Thanh, author of Mysterious Fragrances of the Yellow Mountain

Leigh Godbold
Director of Development & Communications

Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance — Edgar Villaneuva

The philanthropic sector operates in a state of tension. Every day we direct wealth and resources towards work that addresses social inequality, but we don’t always stop to consider, where did that wealth come from? And by giving so much attention to major donations and large corporate gifts—instead of building a more accessible and inclusive culture of giving—are we replicating colonial structures?

These are really vital questions, and they’re why I was so excited to read Decolonizing Wealth. Edgar Villaneuva spent fourteen years working in the philanthropic sector, and came away with a deep understanding of its oppressions and opportunities. In Decolonizing Wealth, he presents us with “Seven Steps to Healing” which encourage a cultural shift from altruism to reciprocity. Instead of seeing philanthropy as a one-way flow of resources, that celebrates major donors and makes the receiver into an “other,” Villaneuva points us to the Indigenous tradition of positioning everyone as both a giver and a receiver. As Villaneuva writes, “Reciprocity means we are only a healthy community if we are taking care of everybody.”

Monica Bettson, Community Chef

A Matter of Taste: A Farmers’ Market Devotee’s Semi-Reluctant Argument for Inviting Scientific Innovation to the Dinner Table — Rebecca Tucker

Tucker’s book is thought-provoking, and while I don’t agree with everything she says, it’s important to continually challenge one’s confirmation bias. A Toronto-based author, Tucker examines why our contemporary society imposes moral goodness onto our individual food choices (as seen with the “clean eating” trend), the dangers that this can cause, and possibilities for a more equitable and sustainable future food system.

Anise to Za’atar
Another great Toronto author. This cool little food blog pairs creative, delicious recipes with thoughtful analysis about food system inequality and global food issues. As a white chef engaging with the foods of other cultures, the author points to ways of building respectful and healthy relationships to both the food we eat and the people and cultures from which these foods originate.

Kate Fane, Communications Officer

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds — adrienne maree brown

When we’re trying to create change, it’s tempting to sprint headfirst at the problem. The stakes around issues like the climate crisis and social inequality are so high, and the timelines so urgent, that it can feel like unless we mobilize everyone to take to the streets tomorrow, we’ve already lost.

But Emergent Strategy argues that if we dig deeper, move slower, and stop to observe the small waves of change that are happening both inside of and all around us, we can be part of making change that’s much more sustainableboth as movements, and as people.

brown’s exploration of community organizing is one of the most joyful how-to manuals I’ve ever read, taking inspiration from everything from the sci-fi vision of Octavia Butler, to the natural root systems of mushrooms, to Beyoncé lyrics. It’s a poetic, meandering, deeply personal, and seriously fun guide to being part of transformation that starts from within.

Got a great recommendation to add to our reading list? Reach out to us on Twitter at @TheStopCFC!