Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Revolutionary Of The Week

Keith McHenry

Keith McHenry was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1957, while his father was stationed in the military there. He has quite the family history--his great, great grandfather was Dr. James McHenry who signed the US Constitution & served in the Revolutionary War. He also served as Secretary of War under George Washington. 2 of Mchenry's grandmother's uncles, Bob & Charlie Ford, joined Jesse Jame's gang in 1882 & killed the famous train robber for a $10,000 reward!

McHenry moved with his family to Logan, Utah in 1958, & later on joined the National Park Service where he worked in several national parks.

Around 1974, he began painting at Boston University, & in 1979 he started his own advertising firm from there. For his great work, he recieved the Clio Award for print media.

What really earned Keith McHenry fame, & this week's spot as the 'Revolutionary Of The Week' here, is when he & 7 friends created the all-volunteer group, Food Not Bombs (FNB), in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Food Not Bombs is responsible for starting hundreds of autonomous chapters not only throughout America, but in Europe, Asia, Africa, & Australia.

The FNB takes food that would otherwise be thrown out, recovers it, & transforms it into hot vegetarian meals that are served to the homeless, at protests, & at other events. The FNB has it's roots running in a variety of other projects as essentially "the food wing of a movement that includes anti-authoritarian music, art, unlicenced radio, zines, squatting, needle exchange, bike and hemp liberation, info shops, computer networking, autonomous decentralized non-heirachical organizing, consensus desision-making, and sharing a philosophy of tolerance, joy, and free expression."

McHenry is also the host of the program "Voices of Rebellion" on San Francisco's Liberation Radio. He co-authored the book "Food Not Bombs: How to Feed the Hungry & Build Community". He currently tours universities, book stores, & holds special lectures & speeches. He recieved the 1999 Local Hero Award by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Describing how FNB was formed, McHenry says, " We came out of the Clamshell Alliance, which was trying to shut down Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. It was a collection of mostly anarchists but included Quakers and the Red Clams, who were Socialists.

By linking the national problem of homlessness with the larger issue of rampant militarism, McHenry's goal with FNB is to address " the inhumane agenda of the goverment at both the personal and international levels", leading towards a path of nationwide debate. Often in the face of huge police repression, this goal is being achieved not only with commitment & passion, but with creativity too.

Members of the FNB's San Francisco chapter have been arrested over 1,000 time. It's gotten to a point where Amnesty International may adopt imprisoned FNB volunteer's as "Prisoners of Conscience", & work for their unconditional release. Once, McHenry was beaten & arrested shorty after Clinton's proposal to give federal housing subsidies to the police, by 8 San Francisco cops. He was attempting to deliver food to the "Beggar's Banquet" protest outside the Mayor's Conference.

"Food Not Bombs volunteers believe that it's not too late to help build an alternative to transnational corporate greed ", McHenry said. " People, through their actions, can change the political agenda."

Recently, FNB celebrated it's 25th anniversary promoting the concept that food is a right, not a privilege.

Check out the Food Not Bombs website.