http://thefoodtrace.com/blog/local-food-community-and-entrepreneurship-how-they-are-all-connected/

Paul Sippil describes his personal story about what led him to start an organization supporting local food and sustainable farming and how he developed a deeper appreciation for entrepreneurship and local farmers. 


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In a previous article, I shared my personal story about what led me to start a farm-to-table community dining and wellness club and how my realization of the intimate connection among local and sustainable food, community, and culture led me down a path of becoming more connected to the world around me.   I’d also like to share a bit more about my background, what community dining means to me, and why the support of my community matters.

I read extensively about a wide variety of subjects including history, economics, wellness and medicine, philosophy, psychology, sociology, law, and most recently, urban planning, farming, and our food system.  For this reason, figuring out how to spend my time meaningfully and productively both personally and professionally has always presented a challenge for me.

This challenge seemed especially apparent as an auditor in public accounting, my first job after college.  I don’t normally have strong gut feelings, but I’ll never forget this feeling I had during my very first assignment – a voice that immediately told me my chosen path was not in harmony with my higher consciousness.  While I attempted to branch out of my narrow scope of responsibilities by seeking out sales and writing opportunities, I had little room for growth, and yet I continued to ignore my inner voice until three years later when I finally decided to become a financial advisor where I could more effectively utilize a full range of my aptitudes and abilities, an idea psychology and education professor Robert Sternberg describes as successful intelligence.

It wasn’t until I’d been a financial advisor for seven years and set up my own practice to focus on investigating the corruption in the retirement plan industry, however, when I believed I was truly realizing my full potential because I was able to incorporate so much of what I had learned outside of my profession through speaking and writing – areas I never had a chance to develop before.  And as an entrepreneur, I no longer had an employer dictate my responsibilities and goals or how I conducted my business.  I could create my own path, and even without the resources of a large company, I still had access to the most cutting edge technology.  Yet something continued to feel missing, like I had more to tell people, but didn’t know what I needed to express.

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Chef Sean Sanders of Browntrout hosted a great community dining event at his restaurant in Irving Park.

Through community dining, I now have a forum to express what I’ve always wanted to say – from how we can non-coercively address community issues such as gentrification and affordable housing, to how we can build stronger relationships between consumers and local farmers, to educating people about understanding the importance of the interconnected nature of our food system and how we can restore the visceral connection to our food, to how food and voluntary and mutually beneficial exchange serve as the foundation that binds the social fabric of society together.  Community dining represents the ultimate create endeavor and provides me with a deeper appreciation for the meaning of entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurs test ideas and subject them to the public process of critical exchange that fosters the advancement of knowledge upon which future generations can build.   While most of them fail in their endeavors, we still owe them a great debt, as their pursuit of knowledge, achievement, and adventure takes great courage and benefits all of us in ways we often don’t notice.

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Perhaps no group represents the spontaneity and autonomy embodied by entrepreneurs more than farmers.  Their creative and decentralized farming methods that bring communities together resulting from the many generations of freedom they have had to develop resiliency and adapt to changing conditions run counter to the institutional goals of forced standardization and mass production.  Consequently, when we attempt to force farming practices (and people) into a controllable mass, we suppress the very nature of life.