One of the reasons I returned to the freelance world was to choose the types of projects that felt important to me, and that made my inner do-goody feel a tad bit better about being a lazy ass about political and social issues. I get Really Mad all the time about all the awful and really, really dumb things our politicians are (aren't) doing, but do I actually stand up and make a fuss? No. I'm not a Santa Cruz banana slug anymore, and dammit, I'm tired. But I also know that the greatest impact can be behind the scenes.

[This is not unrelated.] I am a snobby foodie. I love eating and will never be svelt. I can hardly go out to eat at fancy places anyore because Erik and I rock it at home. (Give me bahn mi anytime though, or mac and cheese with bacon.) I follow the trends, the blogs, the food network, new restaurant openings, closings, the soap operatic nature of the food culture in SF and beyond. After all of that, guilty over the unappreciated priviledge that goes with it, I make believe armageddon has arrived and there will be no more coffee or cheese (ack!) or sourdough bread. No more fancy.

This is where a large section of our population now resides. Food inequality in this country is despicable. It's one of the effects of the ever widening of the class divide, and again, something that anyone in a privledged position hardly bothers to examine. Including myself.

So how excited was I and my inner do-goody to find I could wipe away a wee bit of guilt by collaborating with Sarah Brooks, Laura Haertling and Cody Andreson on a non-profit startup, Catalyst Commons, aimed at tackling the entire US agriculture and food production system. A large undertaking no doubt. Scary. Look at the Big Picture infographic to get a feel for the breadth of what this non-profit is attempting to do.

The site is currently a demo, presented at a recent conference (click on the blinking arrows to move from static page to static page). Catalyst Commons, spearheaded by Melanie Cheng, a local SF Mission-based non-profit entrepreneur, is in the process of raising additional funding to build out the entire system. Once built, it will be both a data and information warehouse, and a matchmaking service between projects needing funding and VC's and grantmakers looking to fund new initiatives in the space.

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AuthorRenee Anderson