Graduation is only two months away?!

Joel Neaveill

Joel Neaveill (BF ’13),
chief of staff, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy

by Joel Neaveill, Bingham Fellows Class of 2013 –

What?!  Are you kidding me?!  It seems like just yesterday we began our Bingham Fellows experience.  In January, a convergence of individuals from diverse backgrounds came together to tackle an intentionally ambiguous topic of “Creating a Smart Food Culture”.   I have resisted the temptation to add my own tag line; borrowing from quick weight loss ads “…in only eight short months”!

BF-j-neaveill-blog_500Our program days have been spent immersed in the various spokes of the topic’s hub including, food access, health and wellness, nutrition education, and the supply and demand of local food.  What I’ve realized is that there is no use in attempting to define what “creating a smart food culture” really means.  It’s a clever trick adeptly created by the staff and steering committee of the Bingham Fellows program to have the resulting projects define the class.

BF-j-neaveill-blog_500aHow each of us decided to approach the topic is determined by whose point of view we feel driven to effect.   Is the point of view from the parent who doesn’t know how to prepare a meal for their family made from fresh food?  Or is it the student whose most nutritious meal comes in the form of a school lunch only during the school year?  Or maybe it’s a Louisville neighborhood in the middle of a food desert where the only accessible food sources within walking distance are gas stations, convenient stores and fast food restaurants.  Or is it the business that wants to meet the demand of its customers for locally produced food, but can’t get enough supply in the quantity, quality, and variety that the market demands?

Recently I’ve been fighting off the anxiety that creeps in from time to time knowing that we have only two months remaining before class graduation.  In the back of my mind are the visions of past Bingham Fellow graduates warning of the pitfalls that prevent a project from being successful – procrastination, lack of clarity, complacency, lack of stakeholder commitment.   Over the past six months, I’m certain each project team had struggled with one or more of these issues that could prevent success.  However, I am encouraged.

I’m encouraged because this Bingham Fellows class is passionate about their community and has a strong desire to succeed. I’m encouraged because I see September as not the end of the 2013 Bingham Fellows class, but the launch of our projects with a goal of improving our communities and the lives of Louisvillians through food.