The International Committee and Special Envoys
As an organisation under Franch law, the International Network URGENCI is driven by a « Conseil d’Administration », here called International Committee. The IC has 8 members and respect a 4 continents representation.
This International Committee changes every two years during the International Symposiums. The current committee has been elected the 22nd of February in Kobe (4th international symposium).
On the same day, right after the General Assembly, the Head Office was elected. The committee has also defined the great lines of the action program to be, following the symposium conclusions.
Apart from the 8 elected (or coopted) members of the International Committee, three positions have been added to organization scheme of the network Urgenci: the position of Honorary President, elected for two years by the General Assembly, on the proposal of the outgoing International Committee; two positions of Special Envoy. All these three persons are invited to participate to some of the IC meetings, without any decisionmaking power.
The International Committee meets once a month (through phone conferences).
The age average in the International Committee that was elected in February 2010 is 38. Among the IC members, 4 are farmers, one is currently going through the installation process, and 3 are consumers.
President: Andrea Calori, Italy
Vice-President : Oumar Diabate, Mali
Oumar Diabaté was born in October 1967. He is a veterinarian, who was trained in the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet countries. He even spent 2 years practicing in Kazakhstan. After he returned to Mali, he connected with the Mouvement pour la Terre et l’Humanisme, and became several years ago a recognized trainer in agroecology.
He then joined Urgenci via the decentralized cooperation actions led by the Aubagne and Etoile Area Authority, especially towards Konseguela. Heading the Volunteers’ Association for rural development, his grassroots’ actions include an AMAP -oriented production at the family farm in Bamako’s surroundings, and the training in agroecology for farmers from all Western Africa.
Already a member of the International Committee in 2008-2010, he was elected Vice-President after the Symposium in Kobe in February 2010.
Secretary : Benjamin Shute, USA
A young farmer of 32, Benjamin Shute, a born and bred New Yorker, is the owner and manager of Hearty Roots Community Farm in the town of Red Hook, New York. The farm was founded in 2004 by young farmers who didn’t own land.
Working with URGENCI, Benjamin aims to be involved with projects to assist in training new farmers, so that we have a new generation of CSA farms in the U.S. and around the world. He has been inspired to meet young farmers who are following paths similar to his in other countries, and hopes that an International Young Farmers Movement will soon be a reality, fed also partly by the CSA Model.
A presentation of Benjamin Shute and his farm is available here.
Jerome Dehondt, France. He is the President of a consumers group in Paris (France), which was created in 2006. This is now an AMAP partnership with a market gardener, a beekeeper and an organic chicken farmer, but also a local arborist and a champignonnier.
He is the administrator and legal representative of the regional network of AMAP, which has been in existence since 2004 (AMAP-Idf,http://amap-idf.org) whose main role is to support partnerships between groups and farmers. The network now includes 120 consumers groups and 70 farmers.
Jerome is also a spokesperson for the national network (MIRAMAP, http://miramap.org) which was formed in early February 2010 and represents more than 500 partnerships across the country.
Eventually, his commitment to the AMAP movement awakened a calling for farming. He is right now going through a profession change process. He should be installing within 2 years as an organic vegetable grower, using permaculture methodology.
Daniel Joy, India
Daniel Joy was born 41 years ago in India.
He is currently at the head of the Institute for Integrated Rural Development (IIRD), operating in the Aurangabad area of India where small-scale farmers survive on less that $1 a day. « The IIRD has enabled over 10,000 mainly women farmers to move from organic farming by default to conscious use of organic methods of production for local farmers markets. Instead of third party certification, they have a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS); women who have gone through the IIRD training act as technical advisors and coaches to the others. Since most of them are illiterate, they use a verbal pledge to a list of 14 simple and clear standards. » (Elizabeth Henderson, « A Global Meeting on Local Food », Urgenci, May 2010).
Kirstin Glenndining, UK
Kirstin Glendinning works for the Soil Association, the UK’s largest organic certifier, on their CSA and Organic Buying Groups project, as regional development co-ordinator covering the east of England.
She works on an organic mixed livestock farm in West Yorkshire, growing vegetables, and rearing sheep and goats for meat.
She hopes that she will be able to take some of the lessons learnt from LSPPCs around the world to promote CSAs and OBGs in the UK, and share some the UK’s experiences with others.
Kristy Apostolides, USA
Kristy Apostolides was born in New York in 1977. She served on the Urgenci International Committee from 2006-2008. At the time, she was employed by Just Food in New York City as the CSA Program Director. She is an American citizen who currently lives in Greece, where she has been engaged in sustainable agriculture and CSA-related work through the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania.
Kristy is willing to help to « bridge » the gap between Europe and the U.S., thanks to her extensive experience with CSA, and to her history with Urgenci.
Shinji Hashimoto, Japan
Aged 48, Shinji Hashimoto is an organic vegetable grower from Ichijima, close to Tanba-City, a town which has been the focus of many regional and national policies supporting organic farming. Apart from his vegetable production, he is also producing eggs and training 2-3 interns in organic farming each year. He has been sitting in the International Committee of Urgenc starting from the foundation of the international network. He also took the lead of the Steering Committee for the preparation of the IVth International Symposium in Kobe, the biggest city close to his farm.
Special Envoy for Institutional Relations
Samuel Thirion is one of the founding members of the network. He was trained in Agronomy.
Special Envoy for Intercultural Relations
Judith Hitchman, Ireland. A 62-year-old Irishwoman, who has lived in France for 36 years. Judith is a professional interpreter, who has spent a lot of her career lecturing in business schools and coaching people in companies on the subjects of managing cultural differences and ethics. She also ran her own training company for many years, and created an NGO 15 years ago for working on issues of sustainable local development and solidarity economy. Her work as a voluntary interpreter is essentially with La Via Campesina, IPC (the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty in Rome), URGENCI, RIPESS (Réseau Intercontinental pour l’Économie Sociale et Solidaire) and the World Social Forum process. She is also a writer and joint editor of the Newsletter for Sustainable Local Development, a monthly on-line paper.
Her contribution to URGENCI: It is impossible to quantify the impact of helping to manage cultural differences and internal communication within a network. She also hopes that her contribution in terms of on-going support in interpretation, co-ordinating interpreters and translators will contribute to enriching our network. In order to build alliances, disseminate the concept in other parts of the world, there is a huge need to link up with other similar initiatives that are developing spontaneously as a solution to the current multiple crises. Her work as interpreter keeps her in touch with many other similar networks. This is why she also hopes to continue to contribute to the networking process as Special Envoy.