Charlene Tan: The Dreamer of Social Change

Young Visionary

posted November 29, 2015 at 12:01 am
by  Ed Biado
“The struggle is real – from material poverty, fear, anxiety and stress to structural injustice. So how does one measure progress?”

These are the words of Charlene Tan – Char to friends – in answering a question about achievement. The founder of Good Food Community says that she hasn’t “thought in those terms in so long” because  of the concept’s subjective nature and that “it would be hubris to claim myself solely responsible” for the positive changes that her social enterprise has affected.

Tan’s brainchild, Good Food Community, aims to make local communities sustainable by connecting organic farmers and “enlightened citizens” in a program called Community Shared Agriculture. Through the scheme, farmers benefit by having the safety net of stable demand while citizens get shares of the harvest every week.

Being a social entrepreneur is a calling. For Tan, it has a lot to do with living an authentic life away from the trappings of contemporary society-dictated culture: materialism, consumerism, and modern notions of development.

With the community, Tan and her team are able to educate people on sustainability and how they can help, as well as support farm operations. And that’s not an easy job: “There’s much to learn in terms of the nuts and bolts of logistics, accounting, event organization, people processes and dynamics. Did I mention microbes, recipes, health?”

However, seeing the fruits of your labor makes it all worth the hard work. Tan explains, “I literally find the farms beautiful. I find the red insects sitting on a blade of grass beautiful; the way we’re invited for coffee in the morning; the way things grow through you in spite of you. It’s a way to be with each other and the world.”

She adds, “I like seeing the plants grow. I also like seeing how communities grow and sometimes I see parallelisms between gardens and people – seeing how the energies interact, thinking about how we can transform relationships, change dynamics, grow harmony. Also I pay attention to the life as it is growing within me. I think it’s beautiful to take steps towards peace.”

Tan imagines a future in which “everyone is cared for.” In the scenario, farmers don’t have to choose between their health and earning an income. No one has to poison the land. Good Food Community proposes a world “where we can all live healthy and generously, where we can all slow down and celebrate what the earth gives us.” It is the same future where cities are filled with trees and bike lanes because it is about sharing and the common good.

“Our call to action is ‘let’s change the world with food’,” Tan shares. “We say this as an invitation to everyone because we can’t do it alone. It’s a call to responsibility, a call to community. We want the greater conversation made possible by this initiative.”

Makeup and hair by Ramon “Chito” Fabello, Jr. of Creations by Lourd Ramos Salon

 

 

Topics: Charlene Tan , The Dreamer of Social Change
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