Common Reading Program

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Will Allen

Will Allen, Author

2016 Scholarship Competition

Sept. 23

Essay prompts and instructions available here

Nov. 7

Essay submission due by 4 p.m. in Centennial Hall 208

Dec. 3

Annual Scholarship fundraiser at Barnes and Noble

Program Description and Goals

New first-year students received a copy of the selected text during your Advising and Registration Days session, giving you the opportunity to read the book by the start of your first semester at St. Cloud State. The purpose of this program is to provide a common academic experience for all new first-year students, which integrates both curricular and co-curricular activities throughout the year. In addition to events around the book at your New Student Orientation in August, many of you will use the book in at least one class you take during your first year, and all of you will have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of programs throughout 2016-17 related to the book and issues it raises.

Your participation in the Common Reading Program will:

  • introduce you to the nature of collegiate academic life.
  • cultivate a sense of community with your new home at St. Cloud State.
  • help you develop connections with faculty and staff  and other students at the university.
  • get you involved in campus activities with related programs and events.
  • enrich your classroom experience with an shared intellectual experience that cuts across courses and co-curricular opportunities.

About the Book

The Good Food Revolution book coverYour Common Reading for 2016-17 is The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen.

The Good Food Revolution traces the journey of Will Allen from professional basketball player and marketing executive to a preeminent urban farmer in inner-city Milwaukee and founder of an internationally recognized organization called Growing Power. Having cashed in his retirement fund to purchase a two-acre plot outside of the city’s largest public housing project, Allen sets out on a mission to transform an urban food desert into a vibrant community organization that provides high-quality, healthy and affordable food to the community as well as jobs and educational opportunities for vulnerable youths. The book follows the evolution of what began as a small, one-man enterprise and quickly grew into a robust organization through a series of small, but meaningful decisions he made, each out of a desire to make a difference in the community. Today, Growing Power is a robust, internationally-recognized leader in sustainable urban farming and the food security movement.

About the Author:

Will Allen is the son of South Carolina sharecroppers who moved to Maryland during the Great Migration to start a new life. From state basketball championships to becoming the first African-American basketball player for the University of Miami, Allen followed a path that led to turning pro after graduating with a degree in education. His pro basketball career took him to Belgium where he found himself getting back to his roots, growing food for his family and teammates in the fashion of local families on small plots, and igniting his own passion for sustainable farming. After retiring from basketball and a successful career in marketing, Allen settled into managing his wife’s family farm just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In looking for a place to sell his produce, he cashed in his retirement fund to purchase a derelict nursery in foreclosure, the last urban plot zoned agriculturally in the city on Milwaukee’s northside, and there he founded the organization, Growing Power.  He has been awarded a Ford Foundation leadership grant, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, and been named Food Revolutionary on the first ever Rodale 100, among other accolades.

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