Those of us who recognize that humankind is at a crossroads, and that we must make substantive changes now if we are to survive as civilized creatures, are often faced with doubt, wondering, “What can one person do?”
We have all heard the quote from Margaret Mead about “a small group of thoughtful, committed people” being the only thing that has ever made change. While it may be inspirational, how realistic is it?
I recently had the pleasure of hosting the Wednesday Morning Talk Radio program on KBOO Radio.
My Guest was Rick North, the Project Director of the Campaign for Safe Food, which is a project of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. In that capacity, Rick has traveled the state and the country in efforts to raise public awareness of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and to get food companies to refuse to use it in their products, primarily by educating food producers, and by mobilizing consumers to make companies aware of consumer preferences.
I have known Rick since the time, 7 years ago, when he created the Campaign for Safe Food. I have watched (and sometimes helped) as he developed science-backed and well-reasoned arguments for avoiding rBGH, mounted educational programs for the public as well as for producers, and conducted postcard campaigns to let producers know that the public was concerned. (You may have heard of rBGH by its other name, recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST.)
And today, we can all feel secure that all fluid milk processors in Oregon and Washington are rBGH-free, and almost all processors of other products too, and producers across the country have followed suit. Rick has also been instrumental in preserving the right of suppliers across the country to label their products “rBGH free”.
Rick did all this, and on a minimal budget.
Certainly he had help: The very existence of the program itself was due to the support of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and its board and staff, in particular their science advisor, Martin Donohoe, MD. Rick is quick to point out that he has had the support of about 40 advisors from all over the country – physicians, dairy farmers, processors, retailers, activists and more. That without this vital support there would not be these wonderful results. And without the countless volunteers and supporters who mailed in postcards and informed retailers, and did countless other small actions, none of this would have been effective.
But they did not organize themselves. They did not mount an effective effort to remove rBGH from our diary products before Rick came along.
At the core was one person: Rick North.
Rick took his passion for safe diary products and made it happen.
Never doubt that one person can make a difference. Rick did. So can you.
Find your passion, and make it happen. Like Rick, be the spark for another group of “thoughtful, committed people” who make change that matters.
For more information about the Campaign for Safe Food see psr.org/chapters/oregon/safe-food/campaign-for-safe-food.html
What do you think?