Date of Award

8-2012

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Laura Lindenfeld

Second Committee Member

Darren Ranco

Third Committee Member

Nathan Stormer

Abstract

“Living in New York City, I experienced being at the top of the food chain, and living in Presque Isle Maine, we are at the bottom of the food chain. The food we get is the bottom of the barrel, low quality, and expensive.” This was a story told to me by a tribal administrator, which represented a problem of food security. The Micmac started a farm in order to address community health issues of high obesity and diabetes. In the summer of 2011, I worked three months on the farm supporting community needs and goals of the farm. My research stems from Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), which developed from a 20 million USD NSF grant. A key feature of SSI focuses on addressing community problems by engaging with stakeholders and community members, which involves being problem driven and produce knowledge with and for the communities the research serves. After meeting with the tribal council, they agreed to collaborate and expressed needs of additional labor, as well as coordinating community outreach. I also studied the interactions of groups and individuals to see where communication studies could support the growth of their farm. One chapter utilized risk communication. In this chapter I argue that power structures within administration threaten the tribes attempt to gain greater economic and food security. This analysis revealed two key risks that threaten this business, economic constraints and not planning and operating correctly. These risks created mistakes in daily operations that cause inefficiencies in production, which contributes to the farm by identifying threats to the business. During this analysis, I realized that my data consists largely of economic behaviors. No issues of tribal sovereignty, health, or past food traditions became dominate themes. I employed a genealogical analysis as influenced by Michel Foucault to understand the underlying discourses that operate in and through the Micmac Farms. In this chapter I explore why do economic behaviors dominate the data? I created a history of farming discourse by analyzing documents to see where key events in history influenced changes with farming practices. I then traced these moments to see how they arise on the Micmac Farms. The grants the farm utilize center on economics because they derive from the farming discourse and a rich history of business. This also becomes an output for the Micmac because they must be careful to find culturally appropriate funding sources that promote indigenous culture and knowledge instead of negating them. I incorporated these findings into a technical report for the community. I outlined a plan to improve management on the farm, as drawn out through my analysis on risk. It involves reorganizing task allocation to resolve inefficiencies in farm production. This addresses a community need of developing a successful business, and I outlined another plan to encourage community interaction around the farm. This involves educating youth about food systems, working with elders to learn past food traditions, and utilizing high school youth to begin a Community Supported Agriculture program.

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