The Ashland community, well over 500 of us, poured into Britt Hall on SOU campus to meet Frances Moore Lappé, the energetic 63-year-old, sparkling author of the widely known “Diet for a Small Planet.” That book, published in 1971, became important to me as I opted for a somewhat vegetarian diet at the time, but didn’t know the rules or the recipes.
“Frankie,” as she likes to be called, has been writing and publishing since then. Her latest book, “Democracy’s Edge,” was offered for sale at the event; I asked her to autograph my copy.
The newspapers captured Lappé’s political activist rhetoric. The notes I took from my front-row vantage point captured some of her pithy annunciations, delivered rapid-fire with full-body gestures.
“How do we live in this world…? We’re the species who have turned our food into our greatest health threat.
“Why is it we are creating a world which, as individuals, we abhor? (We blame others)…an attribution error.
“We’re living in a “frame that is fundamentally life denying. (We must) create an alternative frame. We have to believe in the beauty of our dream.”
Lappé sees a tension between a democratic form of government and our particular brand of market economy. “This democracy is weak and frail; it is dangerous because it so concentrates power” that we as members of our community aren’t participating in decision-making. When we work together as community to make decisions and solve problems, scientists are showing us that “parts of our brain light up…the same as when we eat chocolate.
“We want the sense that we are on a journey together…to a living democracy…to allow us to reknit our sanity….The only problem is the pervading feeling of powerlessness. Power is simply our capacity to act.”