Diane Hatz is the Founder & Executive Director of Change Food. She’s been working toward a better food system for nearly 20 years and is sharing her thoughts as she prepares for The Change Food Fest in New York City on November 12th, 2016.
I was the licensee and organizer of five TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” events from 2011-2015. The event came about because I got a scholarship to the TED conference in 2009, and that was because of an
animated short I helped produce and market in 2003 called The Meatrix. (It’s a spoof on The Matrtix and features a cow, pig and chicken that fight factory farms….If you’ve never seen it, it’s cute. And still relevant.). One year, I was even able to speak about food waste at TEDActive, which was an offshoot of TED that would happen at the same time.
While at TED in 2009, I realized the food served was not that good and a speaker that was talking about food was inaccurate. I voiced this to a longtime TEDster, and now friend, and she simply said, “Put on your own TED event” and then told me about the new TEDx program TED had just started
I applied for a license and was onboard so early they allowed me to put on an issue-specific event around sustainable food and farming. (There’s a rule now that no TEDx can have a specific focus. – one of the reasons TEDxManhattan retired.)
So TEDxManhattan began and became hugely successful. We would sell out in a matter of days and always had at least 500 people on a waiting list. It became an excellent vehicle for raising awareness about food issues outside the food movement.
It also became a way many people in the food movement could create a professional, quality video on subjects they were experts in. Many former speakers saw their TEDxManhattan video as an online calling card and stated that they received many opportunities to speak and participate in events because of their talk.
And over the five years, I realized that these videos were excellent educational tools, thus began the Change Food Video Library. More on that tomorrow. But by searching for a conference outside the food movement and looking for ways to expand the movement’s reach beyond the confines of itself, I was able to reach a new audience.
Millions of people have viewed TEDxManhattan videos – and several speakers ended up on the main TED.com website. One former speaker, Clint Smith, even spoke at the main TED in 2015.
I don’t see many people in the movement actively working to promote what they’re doing – partly because they’re so busy doing the work that they do – but maybe we need funders to understand that we need people to market and promote reports, projects and programs outside the core movement. We need to look for events and conferences and opportunities to spread our reach. And we need to do it by reaching people at the level they are at – not by thinking they will automatically understand what we’re doing.
I’m working on developing my next project to help facilitate this – more on that in a following post. For now, just remember that doing the work is one thing, and finding someone to promote and market it is equally as important.
The Change Food Fest “Growing the Good Food Movement” will take place in New York City on November 12th and 13th, 2016. We will explore and celebrate change happening in the food system. Rather than simply talk about problems, we will actively look at solutions that are leading us to the sustainable food system we wish to see. Our focus will be on both real and visionary change and will include an exploration into seafood, plant based vs meat diets, possible impacts of new businesses and investment money coming into the food space – and much more. You can purchase a ticket or host a viewing party of the live webcast in your local community. Follow the action at #CFFest2016!