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Chairmans Message- May 2015

A Wonderful Mistake at SFUSA

As the new and totally rookie chairperson for the Slow Food Orange County chapter I have so much to learn I dont even know where to begin. So when the start of my new position happened to coincide with my traveling to NYC to visit my daughter I thought, what better way to get to know the organization than to visit the USA headquarters in New York. Why not start at the top?

When I set out to research who to contact at SFUSA headquarters I did not have the slightest idea where they were located or who I might meet with if I even made the connection. About all I knew was they were somewhere in New York. I had received their publications and recently received many emails due to my status as a chapter chair. Although it says I joined SFOC nearly 5 years ago (yes I need to renew my membership) until about 6 months ago I had never even attended an event! That may sound familiar. But I was determined to get more insight into this organization that holds so much appeal to me in so many ways. I sent an email off to a general mailbox after reading about a big event SFUSA was having in honor of Earth Day. I was hopeful that I might be there for the event. My email was answered by Kate Krauss, Managing Director for the USA organization. She mistook my acronym, SFOC, for the group called Slow Food on Campus and thus introduced me to Brittani Le, in charge of the Youth Network. All of this is indicative of how little I know about Slow Food! When we finally cleared all of this up and the two of them could identify which organization I was connected to we scheduled a lunch date for May 4 at 1PM. I was looking forward to expanding my knowledge of Slow Food.

I left my daughters Upper East Side apartment a good hour in advance of our lunch. I brown bagged it because they had mentioned they eat in the office. I was proud of my navigating skills in getting to their new offices at 1000 Dean St, Brooklyn. Thank you Embark NYC app! My first attempt at the door that had the address under it left my heart stopped. It was locked and appeared to be empty. I walked to the next door and thankfully it was opened and there was someone in the lobby. I had indeed found the right place. As directed, I took the elevator to the 3rd floor. I opened the door that read, Slow Food USA and to my surprise a nearly empty office stood before me. A lone gentleman got up from behind his desk to greet me,Hello, Im Richard McCarthy.

His name sounded familiar. Im sure I had seen it somewhere before. Oh yeah, I just read his article and welcome in the Spring 2015 edition of Slow on the plane: Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA.

After introducing myself and explaining my reason for dropping in with my brown bag in hand, Richard proceeded to explain that he had given the entire staff the day off work. They had just wrapped up a full weekend of meetings with guests from Italy and other chapters. They were busy doing a great deal of strategic planning, not to mention they had pulled off a very successful Earth Day event on 4/22. He felt they deserved a break so he was holding down the office while they all stayed home for the day. After sharing with me that he had just eaten his lunch I sat down and proceeded to open my brown bag. I had flown 3000 miles and come over any hour via subway and foot to learn about Slow Food in as much detail as possible. And who better to learn it from?

Richard took nearly 2 hours out of his day to give me as much information as my brain could absorb. He continued to apologize for the mistake in scheduling but little did he know it could not have worked out any better. I am sure I have a great deal more to learn but I now have the big picture. I am embarking on this adventure with the feeling Slow Food is at an important crossroad. Something very exciting is happening in the national community of Slow Food and I am excited to be a part of that. I hope you will join me for this adventure. And while you are at it, read the latest edition of Slow. It might show you a little of what is in store.