Julie Smolyansky, Lifeway Foods’ visionary CEO, referenced AGC in an inspiring piece published this weekend by the Sun-Times on refusing to accept the status quo at home and abroad.
Like AGC’s founder, Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Julie’s perspective has been shaped by her experiences abroad. She challenges readers to learn from experiences at home and abroad.
“We can learn about innovative, inspirational and beneficially disruptive solutions. About fresh perspectives. About refusing to accept the status quo. We can scale these lessons and bring them home to our city, where we, too, struggle with community violence, a lack of healthy food and a crumbling educational system. Thinkers, doers and prospective engineers are everywhere. Like Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, founder of Chicago’s Academy for Global Citizenship, a Chicago public charter school, located on the underserved Southwest Side.The school’s organic garden and flock of chickens tended to by students ensure that hungry bellies receive at least one nutritious, locally sourced, from-scratch meal per day — food for their brains as well as their souls. Sarah Elizabeth and her students aren’t that different from the farmers I met on Bussi Island, an hour outside Kampala, who five years ago were trained by a UN partner to grow and sell their own food. To them, homegrown passion fruit, mangoes and eggplant mean financial security and emotional empowerment.
In a Third-World country, on a refugee camp borne from violence, I saw a healthy glimmer of hope, a sense of excitement. Just like children in inner-city Chicago, these kids want to be doctors, nurses, lawyers, pilots, the President. Hope coupled with opportunity is the best inoculation again poverty, violence, drug use, teen pregnancy, school dropouts and a host of societal ills. We need to think globally and act locally — changing the world for us and for them.”