Ryan Schone is an LVC alumni who stayed in Milwaukee after his year of service in 2011-2012. During his LVC year he served with Central City Churches (CCC), a ministry of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Currently, he works for the University of Wisconsin Extension in Milwaukee and focuses on local food systems and education. As LVC explores a Food Justice Program in Milwaukee, it has been exciting and encouraging to continue to work for peace with justice alongside LVC alumni like Ryan! Below we hear more from Ryan about what from his LVC year shaped his interest and passion for food justice and sustainability.
When you finished college, did you want to work in the urban agriculture and sustainability field?
“Not exactly… in college I studied geography and urban planning. Being at a liberal arts college I had the opportunity to dabble in all sorts of topics and projects; one such topic being urban agriculture. Besides connecting to urban agriculture and local food through coursework, we had a community garden on campus which I found myself spending a fair amount of time at. In some ways this became a return to my family roots, having grown up on a farm in central Illinois.
How did your LVC year change your outlook on the intentional community of different groups, like the city of Milwaukee’s urban farmers and gardening organizations?
“My year of service cultivated a greater understanding that building a lasting community takes a persisting awareness and commitment to the goal. As much as we’d like to think a community simply falls into place, it often doesn’t; the fire needs to be stoked on a regular basis and all those within the community have to be invested at similar levels. This applies to both communities gathered around a common cause like food justice, as well as those attempting to build community at a neighborhood level.”
What excites you about the possibility of LVC growing and becoming a partner in Milwaukee’s food justice community?
“Lutheran Volunteers are great at implementing and tweaking new approaches and solutions to issues of injustice in a cost efficient way. In Milwaukee’s local foods and urban agriculture movement there has been gobs of planning and capacity building carried out over the last decade, yet so many of those efforts ended at the planning stage. I think we’re at the point where we need to start testing more strategies and being okay with getting some things wrong along the way. Bringing fresh and energized eyes to movement – with the commitment and resource backing of the LVC program – presents a tremendous opportunity to do just that.”
You can read more about what Ryan and the University of Wisconsin Extension School are working on in Milwaukee here and be sure to check out this post for more information about the Food Justice Project!
This story originally written for the February 2016 Leader Letter.