Saskatoon, Treaty 6
(Photo by Jennifer Sparrowhawk, Intro by Inger Lise Bonli, Painting Prairie Fire by Jerry Didur)
When Kindred Cities asked me to write an intro for Lisa, I have to admit I hesitated a little. Seriously, how do you do justice to this rad woman?
To make matters easier for myself, I’m just going to list the reasons why she is probably the coolest person you don’t know. She’s one of the talented co-hosts of CFCR’s feminist radio show Laundry List, where she has spoken on topics ranging from micro finance projects in Ethiopia to representations of gender on tv. She’s an expert and author on food policy – check out her book for an engaging read on the politics surrounding organic food. And she’s a die-hard Coronation Street fan and expert organizer of late-night musical-watching parties. (Side note: Though she would claim not to be a fan of said musicals…Lisa, we all know the truth.)
Now doesn’t that make you want to know her better?
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
My projects are non-fiction writing projects and most of them discuss some aspect of food politics and food policy – they examine some currently debated issue regarding food like, what does food labeled ‘natural’ really mean? I then explore the rules and regulations that cover things like food labels and explain how the rules are made, what they actually mean.
I recently published a book on the politics of the organic food sector in Canada and the USA that looks at how the organic movement emerged, the rise of corporate involvement in the organic food sector and what the rules and regulations covering organic food mean. It is geared towards an academic audience, but I consciously used accessible language (limited jargon) so that people interested in learning more about the politics of organic food who are outside of academia can read it.
I am also starting to write pieces for more diverse audiences, which is enjoyably challenging. I recently wrote my first blog post (about organic food), and I also wrote a piece for a publication geared towards food scientists and the food industry. I’m hoping to do more writing for a general audience about current food politics and food controversies.
KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
I am a research associate at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. I am a political scientist by trade, but the projects I work on allow me to collaborate with other social scientists and natural scientists, which is very intellectually enriching. I’m constantly engaging with new ideas and research questions from disciplines different than mine, which has helped me write in a more accessible way to better communicate my ideas to diverse audiences. I like my job because I get paid to do what I love: research and write about food. I also like that I get to travel all over the world as part of my job.
Probably the biggest challenge for me is the lack of permanency of my position. Researchers have different employment-related challenges and different needs than faculty or students at the university and they largely seem to go unacknowledged. Non-tenure track researchers make vital contributions to the university as a research institution and our contributions deserve more recognition.
KC: What’s important to you?
Food. Music. Books. Fresh air. Free time.
KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?
I like that I can walk basically anywhere I need to go in Saskatoon, whether it’s to the grocery store, a music venue or my office. I don’t own a car, so the compactness of the city core allows me to either walk or bike wherever I need to go. Also, the Meewasin Trail is one of the absolute best things about Saskatoon. We are very lucky to have so much accessible green space in the middle of the city.
I also love that there are so many opportunities to get involved in art, music and cultural events in Saskatoon. I joined CFCR’s the Laundry List (Saskatoon’s only feminist radio show) last year as a co-host and I love being part of community radio. I get to meet and talk to so many interesting people and I get to learn about how feminism and gender impact people’s everyday lives and livelihoods. We also have a lot of fun on the show – I like to think that the Laundry List is both informative and entertaining and that we are making a positive contribution to the Saskatoon airwaves.
The thing I like least about Saskatoon is how motorists treat pedestrians and cyclists. I’ve lived in many cities across Canada and I’ve never encountered such inattentive drivers as in Saskatoon. Most of Saskatoon’s transportation infrastructure blatantly deters walking and/or cycling, which I find very frustrating and retrograde. I also find it very irritating that people neglect to clear the ice and snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes. I don’t think people realize that that they are restricting some people’s ability to get around and are creating real health hazards for pedestrians in the winter, especially the elderly.
KC: What is your impression of Regina?
I’ve been to Regina a couple of times for Folk Fest. It seems okay.
KC: How do you survive the winters?
I survive the winters by going outside everyday and walking my dog. My dog is very active and requires lots of walks year-round, so I am sort of forced to go outside whether I want to or not. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but the more you #embracewinter the less bad it seems. Saskatoon seems so empty in the winter. On some winter days, my dog and I have entire stretches of the Meewasin Trail to ourselves (which is heaven). Honestly, if you wear appropriate clothes when it’s -25C outside it really isn’t that bad, I swear. Just put on some long-johns and you’ll be fine.
From the Proust Questionnaire:
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty, reliability and a sense of humour.