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The Big Apple

October 30, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Janelle Wellman/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Beaver St: The building behind the street sign is where the magic happens — the Mercy Corps office is near the top of the building. Photo: Janelle Wellman/Mercy Corps

I am living the dream. I am a native Oregonian living in New York City and working for Mercy Corps — my favorite organization in the world. Our office is in lower Manhattan and is ironically close in proximity to Beaver Street (Oregon's official state animal).

Mercy Corps has several events in New York City that are held at its Action Center to End World Hunger — most events are open to the public, free of charge and held in the evening. Recently, Keith Polo, our guru in charge of global agriculture, shared his perspective about working in the field in order to alleviate hunger. He discussed innovations in agriculture, market chain development and "green" farming — topics I don't know much about.

Of the many things I learned, I found the way he resolves conflict appealing. His process is surprisingly simple: bring everyone involved in the issue to the table and be honest and sincere. That’s it! I know that I will make an effort to incorporate this strategy into my own life — because those who know me best understand that I like to keep things simple, straightforward and sincere.

At the end of the presentation, we had time for Q & A with Keith. Someone asked, "What can the average person do daily to help minimize their negative global impact?" We had a thoughtful conversation brainstorming ideas: make informed agriculture purchases, spend money locally, help build awareness of global issues, lead by example, and visit to find out about more ways to get involved — it can take as little time as a minute to start making a difference.