A Time to Say Farewell … and to Reflect

This past week, the SRAP team bid a bittersweet farewell to former Executive Director Terry Spence, as he closed out his last days with the team to begin a much-deserved retirement with his wife, Linda, on their Missouri farm. In honor of Terry, the team put together a video to pay tribute to him and to honor the decades of work, passion and contributions he gave to the organization and its mission. We also revisited a narrative Terry wrote back in 2005 to chronicle a decade-long fight in his Township and the tolls that struggle took on his family and their relationships with their community. Unfortunately, Terry’s story still rings true today, and these struggles to protect the environment, rural communities, quality of life, public health and human lives from the devastating impacts of industrial agriculture are still ongoing.

As we say farewell to Terry, we are also taking this time to reflect on the history of this organization, the important work we have done and continue to do, the changing world around us, and the need for SRAP to react and change with it. SRAP’s value has always been at the grassroots level. The organization has a unique vantage point in that it engages impacted communities at the local level, but does so nationwide. This provides not only direct insight into the realities of what is happening on the ground in rural communities, but also how these conditions fit into nationwide patterns, needs and overarching public policy initiatives.

In short, SRAP is here to empower communities to organize. We are also here to connect communities to one another—so that they can learn from each another. Lastly, SRAP connects real people experiencing the impacts of a broken food and agricultural system with the network of academic, governmental and non-governmental institutions, public interest groups and political players that need to be engaged to create tangible outcomes and meaningful change, particularly when no other solutions exist.

It is an important time for our work at Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, but not just in the ways you would normally think. Though SRAP has certainly been working with communities around the country to continue to fight the devastating impacts of industrial agriculture, we are also involving our board, our team members, community residents and organizational allies in discussions about SRAP’s strategic plan and our future work. We realize that we must come together to reflect on what we do as an organization and why we do it.

Humanity is at the heart of our work. And yet we continue to witness human lives being lost to a virus that remains uncontrolled and in many cases ignored. We are also seeing the continued senseless murders of people simply because of the color of their skin. The communities that we serve are diverse, and we deeply love and respect the fellow humans who live in them, many of whom are people of color who feel unsafe both inside and outside of their homes. Their homes are no longer safe because of their air and water being polluted by nearby factory farms. Outside, they are subjected to unwelcome and unnecessary violence and murder.

We are living in a time of crisis. It is also a time for needed change. Socially Responsible Agricultural Project will be spending the next few months working through how we can better impact quality of life, speak up for, and support the health of all people, regardless of race, creed, national origin, religious affiliation, disability, citizenship standing or immigration status. This is a time to come together. We must … for humanity’s sake.