Transformations

Personal stories of growth at Eckerd College

Molly Rockamann ('03)

I had such butterflies in my stomach that early morning at the airport, standing beside one of my closest Eckerd friends Jill, as we awaited their arrival. As the mother-daughter pair approached us, I had the exhilarating feeling of what it's like to meet your heroes. With giddiness we gave them each a t-shirt that read "Fat, Famine, and Froot Loops: Where's Democracy When You Need It?"  This was the title of their lecture that evening. The long-awaited day had finally arrived!

I first encountered the work of Frances Moore Lappe in Bill Felice's Hunger, Plenty, and Justice class. She wrote Diet for a Small Planet in 1970 as a drop-out grad student, showing that hunger is the result of a lack of democracy, not a scarcity of food. Thirty years later she and her daughter Anna wrote the sequel, Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet, showing communities and organizations around the world that are bringing food justice to life.

When planning my classes for my senior year, I wanted to study food and agriculture, but there weren't any offerings on the topic. So the wonderful Carolyn Johnston, who was my mentor in so many ways, agreed to let me do an independent study class on it, and my friend Jill (Jordan) Jaeger ('03) joined me. As part of the class, we set ourselves the task of hosting a campus-wide event drawing attention to the impact that our food choices have on the environment, and we decided to bring Frances and Anna as keynote speakers for the event. Planning and organizing the day-long Earth Day Extravaganza took over the second semester of my senior year, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. Besides hosting them to speak, we held a roundtable lunch with them at our International Environmental Law class (taught by Felice); an all-organic dinner for 200 in Fox Hall, complete with a viewing of a music video about the way we eat by Doug Borgman (`04) and Jon Wozniak (`06); a silent auction benefiting the Lappes' Small Planet Fund charity; a live drumming session by Eckerd students, and a book signing.

That day was without a doubt the highlight of my Eckerd experience, as it brought together academics, a campus-wide community celebration, and my passions into one.

The result? I have kept in close touch with Frankie and Anna since then, and have even had the opportunity to work with them, as Anna's tour coordinator for her second book, Grub: Ideas for an Urban, Organic Kitchen, and as research assistant on the next one. They also have served as great advisors to me as I founded The Fiji Organic Project in 2006, to work with sugar cane farmers in Fiji on going organic.