Food & Culture: Uniting the Community
In the midst of the 2020 pandemic and the shooting of George Floyd, more of the disunity that hides within our community has come to light. Thus, the Young Governors have decided to take it upon themselves to attempt to unify people and bridge cultural gaps through something that we all depend on and love: food.
In our community project, we gathered stories from local food businesses and community members to share their experiences with food in the hopes of connecting people and supporting local businesses. Food is a sustenance, a means to an end, and an enjoyment, and it is an effective cross-cultural connector. In addition to connecting cultures, we noticed that due to the COVID-19, our community’s businesses were going through a hard time. As a result of that, the 2020 Young Governors community project also aimed to share the business's development story, journey with food, and food recommendations in order to attract customers.
We interviewed several owners in person or virtually and turned these interviews into a book as a collection of personal stories. Through this book, we wanted to convey the unique diversity and interconnection Elmhurst represents with its vast variety of cultures through its food.
For our project, we enlisted high school student and artist, Sonia Lin, to depict the storefronts of the businesses we interviewed and the iconic foods that they offer. We also reached out to esteemed oral storyteller and historian, Storm Garner, for advice on how to execute our project from her own experiences working on her cookbook, "The World Eats Here," featuring the recipes and stories of the food vendors of the Queens Night Market.
In addition to our food compendium, we also developed other ways to address disunity, specifically through film. In the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement & after the death of George Floyd, we thought it was important to address racism in everyday life in America through the concept of micro-aggression. We created a stop-motion video, where we defined the term 'micro-aggression,' gave examples (verbal and nonverbal), explained its impact, and highlighted ways to combat the racial injustice and racial divisions in our society.
We hope that after exploring our project this year, you can take it upon yourself to promote unity in your community and become an active agent of change. You can begin doing so by spreading the stories from our food book or sharing our stop motion video and start to or continue to have open conversations about racism with your own circles, regardless of how uncomfortable you may feel.
The first edition of our compendium on food and culture in our neighborhood is below!