The process and framing for our video:
August 24, 2020.
Our Faces of the Market video is the culmination of a three-year, yet ongoing, process. It is a fraction of the content we hope to share and only paints broad brushstrokes of our initiative. We will write an in-depth reflection of how the full Faces of the Market campaign was conceived and has evolved soon, but we feel it’s important to begin by providing background and context for the video.
We released the Faces of the Market video during National Farmers’ Market Week (August 2nd- 8th, 2020), as it presented a timely opportunity to tie together some of Farmers’ Market LIFE’s outreach goals. These included highlighting farmers’ markets as essential services, honoring market managers, vendors, and farmers as frontline workers, and voicing our support for local food while actively addressing the tensions surrounding access and racial inclusivity within these spaces. This latter piece helped shape the format and framework of our video.
While Faces of the Market has been a Bounty/FM LIFE project since 2017, we began brainstorming specific campaign ideas in March 2020 to be shared during May’s CalFresh Awareness Month. Within the spirit of the original intent of Faces of the Market, we thought bus advertisements might reach a broader audience. Bus advertisements felt more accessible than a photo gallery or magazine spread, given that we hoped to reach people who were low-income and highlight the benefits of using CalFresh at farmers’ markets while also representing farmers’ markets as diverse spaces. Because community engagement was (and still is) so essential to our project, we asked our trusted partners at the Northern CA Center for Well-Being if we could hold a focus group to share our materials with their community health educators, who regularly perform culturally appropriate and place-based outreach. Ultimately, this feedback session showed us that we missed the mark in numerous ways, and in fact, were operating under some harmful assumptions about race and socioeconomic background.
Comments from the group raised the following questions: What does it imply or communicate to the public if we put CalFresh logos next to images of people of color? More feedback included someone saying, “Why would we have to do a campaign telling people that farmers’ markets are for everyone? Aren’t they?” and “We need to humanize the market, not the people.” Even though our intention was to highlight that customers and vendors at our markets are more diverse than what’s typically portrayed in marketing materials, attempting to highlight the importance of representation during CalFresh Awareness Month was actually reinforcing the detrimental stereotype that those on CalFresh are more likely to be from communities of color.
While the focus group feedback might have been difficult feedback to hear and to process, these valid perspectives caused us to pause— for a while. We did not proceed with the proposed materials for the CalFresh Awareness Month bus advertisement campaign. In fact, this one feedback session helped to inform our framing of the entire Faces of the Market campaign.
We began to reflect on the original intent of the campaign which was, largely, to paint a more inclusive picture of what we know farmers’ markets to be. In doing so, it became increasingly clear that we needed to more explicitly explain and define our motives. For example, what do we mean when we say “inclusivity,” “representation,” or “diversity”? How do we acknowledge and communicate that, yes, our market community is more diverse than portrayed in most outreach materials AND there is still much more work to be done to ensure people from all backgrounds, races, abilities, and income levels feel connected to farmers’ markets? How do we move beyond comfortable platitudes and do the uncomfortable work of addressing historic and systemic bias in the U.S., and begin to confront what that means in the farmers’ market context? And of course, how might we succinctly communicate all of these pieces in a campaign?
In this same time period, Covid-19 began to shift everything. We watched as Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities were hit hardest by the pandemic and did not have the same access to quality food, healthcare, and other essential resources. These communities also make up a large portion of “essential workers,” thus putting them at greater risk for the virus. These experiences, however, are not new. Rather, the racial breakdown of Covid-19’s death rates made the facts so plain and so stark, that people could not look away. The explanations for why Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities have been (and continue to be) most affected vary, but the fact that systemic racism is at the heart of these numbers became abundantly clear when George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis, MN on May 25th, 2020.
As a predominantly white organization, Bounty has not always explicitly made anti-racist commitments or actively vocalized the connection between food justice and racial justice. We own that. However, we could no longer continue to do our work without engaging in what we felt was a social mandate to align our work and our values with the movement for Black lives.
See our statement of solidarity with Black Lives Matter here.
Our Faces of the Market video is one effort in an ongoing process to center Black, Indigenous and People of Color in our outreach materials, partnerships, projects, and values. We want to stress that our video is a small step toward our goals.
As we tried to emphasize in the video, we know that representation— in this case, being featured in an outreach campaign— is not nearly enough when working toward racial justice, equity, and inclusivity at farmers’ markets and society at large. At worst, representation can be tokenism, a merely performative and hollow gesture to give the appearance of inclusivity when no actual work or action is taking place behind the scenes, which is unacceptable. We also know that representation matters, it just can’t be the only conversation we’re having.
See some other ways we’ve been working to address inequities at farmers’ markets:
- Applying a Systems Lens to Improving Farmers’ Markets for All.
- Preliminary results of FMPP community engaged research (be sure to click on “show this thread”)
By virtue of being a predominantly white organization, we continue to walk a fine line between standing in solidarity with communities of color and appearing to speak for them, the latter of which we cannot and should never do. It doesn’t matter how good our intentions might be because impact is what matters— this is why it is so crucial to seek out feedback, in an equitable fashion, from people with different lived experiences and perspectives, and most importantly, actually pause to digest that feedback. This is also to say that holding one focus group does not make us perfect, but it is important that we never forget how meaningful that conversation was, not only for the critiques it offered, but also for the ideas it generated.
Out of that focus group and many ensuing conversations it sparked within our partnerships, the theme of “community” at farmers’ markets became the new standard for our Faces of the Market campaign, with the goal of showcasing how markets can bring people together— even during pandemics and political polarization. Farmers’ markets can offer opportunities for connection to people and local food, a sense of closeness and solidarity with one another. We want everyone to feel welcome in this community, but we also know this is not currently the case and that it won’t magically become so overnight.
Our desire to be transparent about our experience is not equivalent to us having any “answers” or “authority” on these matters, and should absolutely not result in our valorization. Rather, we want to use our position and community relationships to encourage other predominantly white organizations to consider the value and importance of critical reflection, listening, learning, stepping up, stepping aside, adapting, and constantly being actively accountable when undertaking projects of racial solidarity.
The process of meaningful engagement takes time and careful consideration, and in truth, it is never over. There is always more to learn. There is always work to be done. Faces of the Market is only the beginning.
For further reading, you can find a resource guide we put together here titled “Food Justice is Racial Justice:” Resources & Information largely for non-Black people to unlearn and ‘do the work.”
Faces of the Market Campaign Application
Petaluma Bounty seeks applications by qualified photographers interested in a community sourced marketing project to promote farmers’ markets in a manner that captures a shared ethic and value. Our goal is to highlight markets as inclusive, multicultural community hubs for everyone, regardless of socio-economic situations. By creating value-based promotional material, our work will highlight markets as places of innovation, diversity, and vibrancy while providing a flavor of of the local community and culture. This approach will create a campaign that increases patronage by both local community members as well as tourists for the benefit of Sonoma County farmers, community health, local businesses, and the tourism industry.
For more information on Farmers’ Market LIFE, please click on this link.
Funds will be used to expand the “Faces of the Market” campaign, which was developed with input from farmers’ market managers and community partners. This campaign will concurrently share the stories and motivations of the customers, staff, and farmers of the markets while dismantling the image of the markets being utilized only by affluent community members. Funds are sought for professional photography and visual content creation of the “Faces of the Market” campaign as well as for the distribution of the material through various media outlets.
A concurrent and potentially interwoven initiative will be to create a promotional video for Sonoma County Farmers’ Markets that can be used to highlight the diversity of agriculture in the county. The video will also showcase markets throughout the county as a community hub and as a way to connect to the wide variety of agriculture in the county. FM LIFE will partner with KRCB to produce the video and it will be provided to Sonoma County Tourism Bureau and other outlets to encourage economic growth for our small to mid-scale farms who sell at the farmers’ markets.
Petaluma Bounty seeks to contract with a professional photographer to create visual content and a template for telling the story of the “Faces of the Market”. There is an additional community engagement component that the photographer can lead or provide input and guidance on. If interested, please submit an application by clicking on this link.
Below is a more thorough breakdown of the goals, objectives, and timeline of the project.
Goal: To break down the stigma that farmers’ markets are only for affluent people.
- By creating value-based promotional material, our work will highlight farmers’ markets as community hubs of innovation, health, diversity, and vibrancy while providing a flavor of of the local community and culture.
- Exemplify and personalize the economic multiplier effect and interdependencies that manifest at a robust farmers’ market.
Budget and Scope of Work
The available funds for this part of the initiative is $3,000. The scope of work is somewhat flexible but must include at least 3 site shoots (coordinated with Bounty staff) at participating farmers’ markets with 6-8 portraits and profiles from each site. Ideally, the photographer will create a “brand” or template that community members can expand on with their own unique perspective.
- Quality content that could be provided to Tourism Board, KRCB, and other outlets.
- Better sense of priority themes/talking points that resonate with the community members that attend farmers’ markets with the intent on growing that group.
- Community members bring their unique perspectives to the campaign and create unique content within the framework we started.
- Align content and efforts with video creation by KRCB.
- Grow the collaboration’s capacity in being able to administer community engagement campaigns into the future.
- Community Engagement Accomplishments:
- We’d like to train community members (building their technical capacity)
- We’d like to have community members bring their unique perspectives to the campaign and create unique content with the framework we started
- We hope to develop meaningful relationships with community members/a network of people that we may call upon for future initiatives
Stakeholder Groups to Engage (while at markets)
- Produce vendors
- Prepared food vendors
- Market managers
- Community partners
- Nominations of market goers by peers
Questions for stakeholder participants for content creation
- Why did people choose to support or come out to the farmers’ market today?
- Where is the farmer coming from? Why do they choose to farm and sell directly to the customer through the markets?
- Who would you like to learn more about at the market? Who would you like to nominate?
- Favorite recipes
- Who (which vendor-friends-ect.) do you look forward to seeing at the market each week
- How to make market dollars go further
This project is to be completed by April, 2019 and will require coordination of schedules with market managers, Bounty staff, KRCB (film) staff.