connect / 2015

Fermenting Change: Connecting Los Angeles through food and faith

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Netiya

The Fermenting Change Event Series will bring together people from diverse communities over our shared values of nourishing food and land stewardship. Our program will engage Jewish and Muslim school communities and grow to become a replicable model for interfaith celebration across the region. By building connections around food, justice, and traditional ties to the earth, we build relationships across religious and cultural barriers to create an interconnected and resilient Los Angeles.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • Westside

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open streets gatherings (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

One of the obstacles to civic engagement and a unified community is cultural divides: we are a diverse city where people of different backgrounds live side by side, yet in isolation. At Netiya, we believe there is unity in diversity and that beneath our differences lie commonalities. As an interfaith organization, we bring together different groups under a shared agenda: food and stewardship of the land–topics that are common to all faiths and cultures.

We propose an event series–Fermenting Change–with the goal of creating cross-cultural understanding and engagement around the critical issues of food justice and land stewardship. To enhance the impact of our events, we will also host eight workshops and/or volunteer events throughout the year.

To pilot Fermenting Change, we will create a Jewish-Muslim partnership, bringing together communities in a celebration of common food traditions, ties to agrarian roots, and commitments to social action. We’ll implement the pilot with Sinai Akiba Academy (a Jewish school) and New Horizon School (a Muslim school), both members of Netiya’s interfaith network that will be implementing Netiya’s Just Food & Gardens program at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 respectively. As part of those programs, both schools are creating edible gardens on their properties, and hosting educational workshops on topics ranging from gardening and pest management to water-wise technology, traditional cooking preservation, and food justice. More details on our Just Food & Gardens program can be found here: http://www.netiya.org/programs/

Next, we will use lessons learned from the pilot to go beyond a Jewish-Muslim partnership to draw in communities of all faiths. We will host a second event using our 42-member network of faith institutions to create a truly universal and interfaith gathering. The event will be both educational–providing classes and workshops–and inspirational, giving participants the tools and connections to participate in volunteer opportunities, advocate for relevant policy changes, and become ambassadors for food justice in their own communities.

We see the Fermenting Change series both as a community connection in itself, and also as a means to inspire action and interaction outside of the events. Our events will galvanize participants around social change and food issues, resulting in more city-wide participation in volunteer and cultural events both within and outside of the congregation community.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We will evaluate our impact on civic and social engagement, with the goal that our programs will enhance people’s participation both within their own communities (geographic, cultural, or religious) and their interaction and cooperation with other communities.

Specifically we will look at: –overall participation in two major festival events of 2016, one focused on communities of Sinai Akiba Academy and New Horizon School together and one for the general public –participation by Fermenting Change attendees at Netiya workshops and volunteer events, as measured by attendance records –participation by Fermenting Change attendees at other volunteer and cultural events, as measured through participant surveys –attitudes and interest around social action and inter-faith collaboration, as measured by surveys with participants, newsletter readership

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support