Last week over 190 delegates attended the 6th annual New England Food Summit in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This marked the completion of a cycle through all six New England states and an important moment in the evolution of Food Solutions New England, a network of networks that has been in development with IISC’s support around a bold Food Vision that sees the region becoming more connected and self-sufficient while supporting a more equitable, eco-logical and vibrant food economy.
Leading up to the Summit, the FSNE Network Team engaged in a year-long system mapping and analysis process that yielded a few key systemic health indicators associated with the Vision as well as a set of leverage areas for framing and advancing regional strategies in the direction of the Vision:
Engaging and mobilizing people for action
Cultivating and connecting leadership
Making the business case for a more robust, equitable and eco-logical regional food system
Weaving diverse knowledge and inspiration into a new food narrative
“We want a system that provides all children regardless of race or economic background with the same opportunities.”
– CT Right From the Start
The video above and words below appear on the CT Right from the Start (RFTS) website, and represent one of the outcomes of the past two years of work of a collaborative multi-stakeholder effort that IISC has been supporting as the lead process designer and facilitator. RFTS runs parallel to the state’s planning initiative to create an early childhood office that consolidates services for children and families. Right from the Start has become an important voice for equity in Connecticut and we are very proud of its stance and our partnership . . . Read More
For two years, we at IISC have been working with the staff of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, based in Hamden, CT, as it has responded to a “community call” and stepped up to convene a multi-stakeholder process to create a “blueprint” for a state-wide early childhood development system that works for all children and families, regardless of race, income, or ability. Read More
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
-T. S. Eliot
It’s interesting to see how, as much as things evolve, there is also a circularity to this movement. For the past few years we have been working with the Graustein Memorial Fund on Right from the Start, an early childhood system change initiative for which the Fund has served as core convenor and funder. Come to find out that IISC’s new President, Ceasar McDowell, was in on early conversations that launched the Memorial Fund’s unique and wonderful Discovery program to seed community-based collaboratives for early childhood development planning. Read More
|Image from Ritwik Dey|http://www.flickr.com/photos/ritwikdey/425995583/in/photostream|
At the end of last year, I posted a piece about our work with an early childhood system change initiative through the Graustein Memorial Fund in Connecticut. At the time we were exploring different formats and technologies for creating a new “system blueprint” for early childhood development in the state. Our post and related tweets asked for possible resources to conceptualize and create a living blueprint for this dynamic system, and I wanted to give an update about what we have heard so far and where we stand in our conversations.
As the Core Team has engaged in its research about all this, we’ve realized that there are three separate but possibly connected aspects to this “blueprint”conversation”: Read More
I have written a few times in this space (see “Right from the Start” and “The System is Us”) about our work with the Graustein Memorial Fund and stakeholders from around Connecticut to re-conceptualize and change the early childhood development system in the state so that all families and children are thriving. We are currently in the midst of a visioning process, whereby members of the System Design Team are engaging various constituents in conversations about what it would look like if the system were truly providing equitable and excellent support and opportunities to all children, regardless of race, ability, and income. In addition, we are asking what foundational beliefs, or values, would under-gird such a reality brought to life. This phase kicked off with a series of interviews with participants in the Memorial Fund’s annual Stone Soup Conference. This included parents, child care providers, elected officials, advocates of all kinds, and the keynote speaker – Ralph Smith. Check out the series above, along with others posted on the Right from the Start site. There is an emerging picture forming here, that speaks to the power of collective visioning. What do you see?
I have previously written in this space about a state-wide early childhood system change effort in Connecticut, for which my colleague Melinda Weekes and I are currently serving as the lead process designers and facilitators. For the past year, we have been engaged in a robust and somewhat emergent process of exploring some of the underlying systemic dynamics surrounding early childhood development and care in the state, and beginning to re-imagine that system, in all of its complexity as it holds the vision of nurturing whole children, from informal to formal elements, from grassroots to grasstops.
At this point, we are poised to think more deeply about what it would mean to create a “blueprint” for that system, acknowledging that this blueprint could never cover every component and dynamic in the system, nor would we want it to be static. Read More
“In a sense, it’s not a system until it’s working for the people on the front-line, and above all the parents who need services for their children.”
-David Nee, Executive Director, WCGMF
|Photo by jfinnirwin|http://www.flickr.com/photos/jfinnirwin/5248114004/in/photostream|
Last November I blogged about the launch of a bold and exciting initiative in Connecticut, spear-headed by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund based in Hamden. My colleague Melinda Weekes and I were engaged to assist the Memorial Fund as it answered a community-based call to step into a convening role to bring relevant stakeholders together from around the state to re-imagine and build an early childhood system “that is accessible and effective in all settings and in all communities for Connecticut’s children and families regardless of race, abilities and income.” This initiative has since been dubbed Right from the Start, a name that has turned out to be quite prescient in light of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s recent comments. Right from the Start builds upon 10 years of work by the Memorial Fund in supporting community-based efforts to promote development and learning for all children. Melinda and I are proud to have been able to make a contribution over the past four years by providing Facilitative Leadership training and collaborative capacity building to more than 200 individuals from the 57 Discovery Collaboratives around the state. Read More