Food Storm at UNCG was a big success this past Friday thanks in large part to Laura Cole, one of the event’s organizers. Cole, an assistant professor of interior architecture, got her PhD at the University of Michigan before coming to UNCG in 2013.

This year, Cole led a series of discussions on local sustainability. Known as the Ashby Dialogues, the discussions had the goal of implementing “the vision of the late Warren Ashby that the University should be a community of inquiry, with faculty and students engaged in the pursuit of understanding both in and out of the classroom.”

Past dialogues have included a film series, reading groups, and an ecovillage lecture.

I spoke to Cole briefly after the success of the last dialogue, Food Storm, which was held this past week. I asked her why localism was an important topic for conversation. She said that localism can address many of the concerns people have about the sustainability of our economy and our culture, including how to reduce energy consumption, power society and protect the climate.

“I think we really need to mobilize as communities and think about how we are going to respond to those issues and meet our basic needs,” Cole said.

Food Storm played to a packed house of more than 100 people. It was designed to connect students to the local food movement and to generate activism. Cole was still trying to process the day’s events when I asked her how it went.

“Immediately today the best thing was the energy and the excitement within the room,” she said. “Within the first half hour it felt like this was a success. We know the community partners are very passionate but we’re trying to get students who are on campus, who may not even know they are passionate about local food, into this event to channel them into activism with some of these organizations.”