by Taki S. Raton
Milwaukee’s Community Brainstorming will present its 23nd Annual Community Brainstorming Conference James Howard Baker Award Dinner Friday, November 16 at the Radisson Milwaukee North Shore, 7065 North Port Washington Road. The social hour will begin at 5:30 and the dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc. Will Allen will be the 2012 Recipient of the annual James Howard Baker Award. The keynote speaker for this year’s celebrative event will be California’s 35th District Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Remembered by many as a person of quiet dignity, a hard worker and dedicated to the elevation of Black people, James Baker was one of the founders of the Brainstorming forum. An engineering graduate of the University of Cincinnati and an engineer with the City of Milwaukee, Baker also worked with the Community Journal where he organized and oversaw implementation of the newspaper’s Job Fair.
Prior to his passing in 1990, he was known in the community for his unending research and his advocacy for the inclusion of people of African descent in every aspect of political and economic life in Milwaukee.
He was revered as a one man urban research center and was also known as a solid intellectual yet maintaining that unique touch which resonated in every segment of his community.
Baker on his own time spent hours researching existing and proposed legislation, laws, regulations, policy and pertinent data that would have an impact on the lives of African Americans, particularly in Milwaukee.
A prolific writer, this community stakeholder would fashion papers on his findings and provide an analysis of the information that would assist people in the understanding of how his data could affect their daily lives.
“He shared his findings at Community Brainstorming,” says Community Brainstorming Conference chairperson Russell W. Stamper, Sr. He adds that “his research was accurate and his analysis impeccable. If a policy maker came to Brainstorming and was foolish enough to tell only one side of the story, Jim Baker in his soft spoken non-confrontational voice would fill in the blanks. His efforts helped shape public policy so that it worked for people.”
Reflecting many of these same qualities, Will Allen has been recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. He is considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. According to his website, a primary focus of Growing Power is to provide equal access to healthy, high quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. This initiative provides hands-on-training, on-the-ground demonstrations, and outreach and technical assistance through the development of community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
The son of a sharecropper, a former professional basketball player, an ex-corporate sales leader, and now farmer, Allen was awarded a Ford Foundation leadership grant on behalf of his urban farming in 2005.
I 2008, he was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” for his work in urban farming and sustainable food production. In 2009, the Kellogg Foundation awarded Allen a grant to create jobs in urban agriculture.
He appears in the film documentary “Fresh” where he is referred to as “one of the most influential leaders of the food security and urban farming movement.”
Allen is co-author with Charles Wilson of the book “The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities.”
In 2010, he was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama in launching “Let’s Move!” her signature leadership program designed to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America.
Time Magazine further name Allen in 2010 as one of the 100 Most Influential Persons in the World.
On May 20, 2012, Allen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Agriculture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Considered by many to be one of the most powerful women in American politics today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters has gained a reputation as a fearless and outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor. She was elected in November 2010 to her eleven term in the House of Representatives with almost 80 percent of the vote in the 35th District of Columbia. She represents a large part of South Central Los Angeles, the communities of Westchester and Playa Del Rey, and the diverse cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lawndale.
Congresswoman Waters is a senior member of the House Committee on Financial Services and serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises. She additionally serves on the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and on the House Committee on the Judiciary, where she sits on the Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee and the Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee.
Tickets for this 23rd Annual James Howard Baker Award dinner can be purchased through November 9 from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Center for Veterans Issues, 315 West Court Street. Ticket price is $20 or $200 for a table of 10. Interested parties after November 9 are urged to call (414) 507-2123 after 4 p.m. to ticket purchase.