Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ) is a Seattle-based grassroots organization that aims to strengthen the global food sovereignty movement. Food Sovereignty is a vision for how to democratize the global food system, and is defined as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”
On Saturday, September 29th, CAGJ will celebrate their 12th annual SLEE Dinner. SLEE – which stands for Strengthening Local Economies Everywhere — is a festive community gathering with over 300 guests who enjoy a delicious locally sourced and Fair Trade meal, a Silent Auction, and a Dessert Auction. Guests enjoy live music, drinks and hors d’oeuvres during Happy Hour, while perusing information from local food justice and immigrant rights organizations. Follow the event on Facebook!
Every year CAGJ chooses a keynote based on who can best raise consciousness about current food issues. Amidst the current political context of deportation raids on workers at the backbone of our food system, Edgar Franks will uplift a liberatory vision that connects food justice and immigrant justice and highlight farmworkers who are building community self-determination. Franks organizes farmworkers with Community to Community Development (C2C) in Bellingham, WA. In his keynote, “The Legacy We Inherit: Luchando por una Vida AgroEcológica”, he will reflect on agroecology as a way of life, and share how C2C works to ensure the needs of migrant farmworkers are represented on the path toward Food Sovereignty.
SLEE is unique amongst local food justice dinners in a number of ways. First, CAGJ aims to make it very affordable by offering tickets on a sliding scale (starting at $40), as well as Solidarity Tickets (pay $20 or what you can), and multiple volunteer opportunities. It’s also the only event that honors local farmers, farmworkers, and food activists by inviting them to attend free of charge and mentioning the importance of their work at the dinner. Guests have the option to purchase a “Support a Farmer/Farmworker” ticket when they register to make it possible for honored guests to attend.
CAGJ is a Seattle-based organization due to its founding, which took place in 2001, after several organizers of the 1999 WTO protests came together to envision a continuation of the strategic, creative work that made the shutdown of the WTO meetings possible, as well as the education of thousands of people through dozens of teach-ins that week. CAGJ’s Director, Heather Day, is one of the co-founders.
The SLEE Dinner began twelve years ago to connect CAGJ’s Fair Trade organizing with the burgeoning local food justice movement. The dinner has become CAGJ’s most important annual event and fundraises a fourth of their budget.
Another great opportunity to get involved in CAGJ is to volunteer at the SLEE Dinner! Every year over 50 volunteers make the whole event happen, and it’s a fun experience. It’s also a much-needed time for community to gather and feel our collective strength as we take on the many challenges to strengthen our food system. Learn more about volunteer opportunities on CAGJ’s website and sign up by emailing CAGJ’s Volunteer Coordinators (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CAGJ accomplishes all of this with only two staff because it of its strong membership base. CAGJ has over one thousand members, around 25 interns per year, and at least 25 core volunteers, who lead most of the organizing. New people get involved all the time, either by going to a new volunteer orientation at a monthly Food Justice Project meeting (3rd Tuesday/month) or by contacting the CAGJ office to set up a meeting.