Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Report from Washington

Kristin Schafer's picture

Washington DC is a funny place.

On the one hand, the energy and excitement of power is palpable: decisions are made here that affect people across the country and around the world. Smart people of all stripes dedicate themselves to creating, influencing, critiquing or reporting on policies that shape our society.

On the other hand, it's a bit of a bubble. To an outsider, the distance between the heady world of policymaking and the on-the-ground realities of people affected by those policies is painfully clear.

Part of our job as outside-the-beltway advocates is to find ways to bridge the gap. Like today, when I hand-delivered this common-sense message to White House staff from thousands across the country:

Mr. President, your cancer scientists say you should do something about cancer-causing chemicals. Please listen to them. 

Bringing voices of concerned citizens to Washington really can make a difference. In this case, White House staff agreed to put cancer prevention planning back on the presidential agenda, and to get input from PAN and other groups concerned about the links between pollutants and cancer.

We'll see where it leads — we'll likely need to deliver more than one dose of reality from outside the bubble. For now, we're thankful for all those who took the time to sign on. Together, we got their attention.

Kristin Schafer
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Kristin Schafer's picture

Kristin Schafer was PAN's Executive Director until early 2022. With training in international policy and social change strategies, Kristin was at PAN for over 25 years. Before taking on the Executive Director role in 2017, she was PAN's program and policy director. She was lead author on several PAN reports, with a particular emphasis on children's health. She continues to serve on the Policy Committee of the Children's Environmental Health Network. Follow @KristinAtPAN