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Logan Square Farmers Market

On Sunday we spent time at the Logan Square farmers market, talking to local farmers and market goers about the GROW Campaign and the  GROW METHODFirst off, I would like to tell you all that if you have not been to the Logan Square market, you are missing out.  Even during the rain there was a steady stream of people eager to buy their fresh local produce, hang out with friends, and sign on to Oxfam's pledge to build a better food system.  

My favorite moment of the day was when a local farmer from Sandwich, IL (50 miles southwest of Chicago) came up to us to learn about what we do.  We proceeded to tell him about Grow and the Grow Method, but I could tell that his attention was not on us.  He was reading the TABLE FOR NINE BILLION (one of our handouts that summarizes the Grow Campaign).  He looked up at us with an expression on his face that I couldn't quite place, and said, "This is it, this is right on,  if we can do this, we will be on our way!"

And that is when I realized what the look on his face was.  It was a look of Hope, a look of Relief, a look of Somebody is on my side.  We continued to talk about food, crop diversity, and commodity prices.  He never did come out and say thank you to Oxfam for the wonderful work they do, just as I never thanked him for doing what I believe to be one of the most important jobs.  But in that conversation we both understood, and were given reassurance that we are all in this together, and if we can just  GROW

"we will be on our way".

-A. Farag


Oxfam Action Corps at the Leaky Con

Bonnie Wright, Oxfam Ambassador, during her trip to Senegal 

What do Oxfam and Harry Potter have in common? I couldn’t come up with anything at first, but then I realized: they are both committed to making their community a better place. That’s why it made perfect sense that the Chicago Oxfam Action Corps posted up at the Leaky Con for 4 days in order to gain support for the GROW campaign.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m referencing, the Leaky Con is a 4-day annual conference held for Harry Potter enthusiasts from around the globe.  Fans come from literally all around the world to this sold-out conference to spend a long weekend among those with a similar love for Harry Potter to attend meetings, discussions, classes, concerts, plays, and more in the name of Harry Potter fandom.  One of Oxfam’s biggest connections to the Leaky Con is the wonderful Harry Potter Alliance itself.  Their Imagine Better Project is currently working on a campaign called Hunger is Not a Game, where they encourage others to pledge and support Oxfam's GROW campaign.  Additionally, one of Oxfam's very own ambassadors is the lovely Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter movies.  It was great to be among so many others who are concerned about world hunger and willing to stop and learn a little bit about what they can do to help.

Our Goal!

Having set quite a lofty goal of getting 1,000 signatures of Leaky Con goers, Oxfam Action Corps members had their work cut out for them.  We set up our table in the vendor section of the conference, but were challenged by being placed in a far corner of the hall with semi-low fan-traffic flowing through.  Not to be discouraged, we set to the halls dressed as a banana, talking to the fans waiting in line for events about Oxfam America, the GROW campaign, the GROW method, and how they can get involved with Oxfam in their own communities.   We even joined the crowds at the Leaky Con ball on Saturday night, complete with an Oxfam sticker-skirt and banana suit.  Among the costumes, ball gowns, and “butter beer,” we managed to stand out, gather a few more signatures, and have a great time.  The enthusiasm expressed by almost everyone we approached was welcoming and encouraging, though we fell just short of our goal.  Wrapping up the weekend with a total of 698 new GROW pledgers was an amazing feeling, and all our hard work certainly paid off! 

A huge thank you to all the volunteers who came and supported us, and helped us inch closer to our goal. We could NOT have done it without all your enthusiasm, energy, and dedication! Check out the pictures below to see more of the fun:

View film from Bonnie Wright's trip to Senegal here


The GROW Method

Sunday night the world watched a team of engineers and scientists clamoring and communicating as the Curiosity headed to Mars. Upon touch down and sending its first images, the Curiosity had landed safely with functioning equipment, which established a momentous success for NASA. This special team burst into joy, grown adults in tears of happiness and laughter from relief. Enthusiasts alike across the globe watched in wonder of the possibilities, happy with the NASA team. And this happened in the midst of Olympic competitions on an international stage. As the whole world stays affixed, young teens vault into history, teams swim past old records, and runners collapse in exhaustion after making gold-worthy strides. We feel their emotion in victory and defeat. Whether for one country, one sport, or one athlete, we are all watching. As a result we are inspired in our daily lives. What keeps us all dedicated in our unity? This feeling that we are all part of something greater than us brings us closer. It keeps us fighting for the same goal, be it for scientific advancements or emotional unity as a people.

With such inspiration and unity, how easy is it for us to individually work towards a cause that can affect millions? Climate changes have increased the probability of drought. We know drought and famine occurs abroad. We make our donations and raise awareness about food policy. Our efforts through Oxfam have made a great difference. 2012 brought drought to U.S. farmers. Food prices are soaring and shortages of food sources caused Congress to force through some legislation to help farmers. But you, me, and everyone we know can do something to affect our areas. These same practices can help those abroad. The simple solution to food problems is the GROW method.

The GROW Method…what does that even mean? Aren’t we already growing or have already grown? What does this have to do with food? GROW is a new way of thinking to improve food policy, food practices and improve the overall food system on an international level. Climate change, land grabs, price of oil, discrepancies in the food trade system, inequality between men and women…all these issues lend to a broken food system. These problems seem overwhelming like the pressure at the Olympics. They also seem so far away like the Curiosity stationed on Mars. But there is a way! Oxfam developed a step by step plan for every individual to make a positive impact. With five simple concepts, anyone can help fix this broken system.

1.       Buy local

2.       Eat seasonal

3.       Save food

4.       Eat less dairy and meat

5.       Cook smart

We want to discuss the issues with you. We want you to be inspired by the power you have to change our world. Each step takes new habits to practice. In fact, you may be doing some of these already! In the upcoming weeks we will discuss each of these steps and a different issue. And we want to hear how YOU are doing as you practice the GROW method. Check out our GROW video and our Pinterest cookbook. Take on the GROW Challenge here. Share with us how you are doing. Email us at chicago.oxfamactioncorps@gmail.com.

We are excited to hear from you! We can’t wait to change our world. Here. Now.
-Megan Nakra


Chicago Oxfam Action Corps at Coldplay!

Did you know Coldplay has invited Oxfam to tour with them at all their concerts around the entire world? We’ve been thankful to be able to join them at their amazing shows for over ten years, and on August 7th and 8th Chicago Oxfam Action Corps had the opportunity to join them in Chicago!

With almost 40 volunteers over the two nights, Chicago Oxfam Action Corps took to the crowds dressed as various fruits and veggies to collect signatures in support of the GROW Campaign. It was such a fun time watching the Coldplay crowd interact with our volunteers to learn more about Oxfam and the GROW Campaign, and even cooler to see Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin wearing an Oxfam button on his shirt during the show!

It’s always a bit intimidating to talk to strangers about signing our GROW pledge at first, but Rachel was a great mentor in giving all our volunteers tips and tricks about how to canvas the crowd.  By the end of the night, everyone was a pro, and Chicago was able to sign up hundreds of supports of the GROW campaign. Great job, volunteers!

Check out the photos below of our volunteers hard at work.  


These Coldplay concert-goers were wearing handmade Oxfam shirts! Awesome!

Find more photos at the Oxfam on Tour Facebook page here

Update on Sudan and South Sudan

South Sudan’s first birthday has come and gone. A stage has been set for its success; however its government struggles to establish the means for it to succeed. The building of internal infrastructures is the capstone for beginning an independent nation. Major issues derive from tensions between Sudan and South Sudan preventing strong institutions to propel both nations into stability. United Nations put a deadline for Sudan and South Sudan to resolve major military and economic issues by August 2nd. However this deadline has passed and the two independent nations remain deadlock in conversations about peace with one another. Following UN resolution 2046 from May 2, 2012, the United Nations now calls upon Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to resolve several issues between the two countries by September 2nd of this year. This established treaty specifies the need for Sudan and South Sudan to demilitarize their respective borders especially along the Abyei areas. Another major diplomatic move through UN Resolution 2047 calls for help by the UNMISS to aid in the demilitarization and increased security on the borders between these nations.

 It also focuses on resolve for oil revenue allocations between the two countries. While approximately 75% of the oil runs through South Sudan, pipes run through Sudan. Sudan demands 50-50 for revenue however South Sudan looks for numbers more representative of where the oil reserves lie. To exacerbate the situation regarding oil revenues, there have been accusations of stealing oil and no compromise in oil transportation tariffs. Safety along the borders would help peacemaking in oil revenue issues.

In considering the bright spotlight on South Sudan and Sudan to grow and come to terms with their independence, it is unfortunate to find continued strife between national governments. With almost a year of discussions, the people of both nations suffer in grim conditions, always living for the sake of survival, if that. The number of refugees moving from Sudan to South Sudan steadily rises. This is coupled with increasing distension of food shortages across the region. The United Nations and fellow partnering organizations, like Oxfam, are focusing on the deteriorating health issues. Soap, water, food and mosquito nets are among the top distribution items for refugees, many of them children. Children are at high risk of malnutrition, respiratory infection, malaria, and diarrhea. Conditions aggravated by the political and economic strife inflict wounds on the weakest of the population.

Oxfam, whose presence in Sudan since 1983 creates a positive impact on the citizens, strives to provide humanitarian effort. Long term assistance development embanks the Oxfam work to give people the opportunity to become resilient against food shortages and lack of help from the government. Projects include urbanization, educational programs, and help against famine and drought. With the influx of refugees shifting from Sudan to South Sudan and economic strain, support of these two nations by Oxfam and UN is essential to the people. Humanitarian efforts are only made possible by volunteers, donations and awareness. With Hunger Banquets and ACT FAST events, a concerned citizen in any city can help in aiding citizens of South Sudan and Sudan. You can change the world if you start here. In our action corps we strive to continue building a community for awareness and action. You can even organize your own ACT FAST event! Visit the Oxfam webpage to learn more. And keep in touch with us. Together we can support each other to change our world.

-Megan Nakra


First Person: Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty