TCNJ Magazine - Winter 2017

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9 Required reading The Class of 2020's first college assignment? A book by a farmer who won the MacArthur "genius" grant. Urban farmer Will Allen came to campus to speak about his book. Summer Reading Redux Every year, faculty and staff join together in the complex process of choosing a summer reading book. The chosen text must fit within the college's current academic theme, tell a compelling story, and provide a call to action. Here are previous picks: 2015 The Nature of College, James J. Farrell 2014 The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, Wes Moore 2013 The Big Truck That Went By, Jonathan M. Katz 2012 Revolution 2.0, Wael Ghonim 2011 The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage IT WAS NOT A TITLE that Alyssa Joyce, a self-described fan of young adult fiction, would have chosen. Ditto for Brian Peng, who typically gravitates to historical fiction and fantasy. But, to be fair, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities isn't a book that author Will Allen probably ever imagined he'd write. The son of a sharecropper, Allen wanted to escape the small family farm where he grew up. He found his ticket out, first in collegiate and professional basketball and later in corporate America. But, as he describes in his book, his roots pulled him back. Allen began to long for the "rhythms of agriculture" and the self-worth he gained from a successful harvest. So at a time when he could have settled into mid-life comfort, he took a risk. He cashed in his retirement savings to purchase a plot of land and a run-down greenhouse, five blocks from Milwaukee's largest public housing project and right in the middle of a food desert. He set up a farmer's market to sell crops he grew on family land and later transformed the lot into a thriving garden cultivated by local youth. Today, he is the CEO of Growing Power, an urban agriculture initiative that harnesses the power of farming and gardening to provide jobs, help youth, improve health, and empower communities. If the goal of TCNJ's annual summer reading program is to unify the incoming class and college community under a common academic theme — this year's is sustainable and just communities — this book has done it. For Lindsey Harris, who grew up in a rural part of South Jersey and was raised on community-grown vegetables, the book and the fall semester discussions it inspired opened her eyes to the challenges faced by residents of urban food deserts. What resonated for Joyce, an aspiring teacher, was Allen's willingness to take a financial risk for the good of the community. And Peng, the historical fiction fan, came away with a lesson on changemaking not often found in history books: "My reaction was, wow, you don't have to be a policymaker or someone with immense wealth to make a difference. It was incredibly inspiring." —Melissa Kvidahl '07

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