March 10, 2016
Photo by Randy Read|http://www.flickr.com/photos/randyread/3583187019|
In an article in Fast Company, entitled “The Secrets of Generation Flux,” Robert Safian writes that in these uncertain times, there is no single recipe for success. Safian profiles a number of leaders who have been relatively successful at riding the waves in different ways, and notes that they are all relatively comfortable with chaos, trying a variety of approaches, and to a certain degree letting go of control. This resonates with our experiences at IISC helping people to design multi-stakeholder networks for social change. For example, even in a common field (food systems) and geography (New England) we witness different forms emerge that suit themselves to different contexts, and at the same time there are certain commonalities underlying all of them.
The three networks with which we’ve worked that I want to profile here exhibit varying degrees of formality, coordination, and structure. All are driven by a core set of individuals who are passionate about strengthening local food systems to create greater access and sustainable development in the face of growing inequality and climate destabilization. They vary from being more production/economic growth oriented to being more access/justice oriented, though all see the issues of local production and equitable access as being fundamentally linked and necessary considerations in the work.
November 6, 2013
Last Friday, I worked with the Network Support Team (NST) of the Connecticut Food System Alliance (CFSA) to facilitate a gathering of over 100 food system and food security activists. This was the fourth convening in the past year and a half, and featured what have become typical elements of fostering connectivity between people (welcoming and introducing ourselves to new people, learning together, making offers and requests) and alignment around the CFSA vision. And to honor what has been growing in the network as both a call for and a question about the possibility of collective action, NST members Melissa Spear, Marilyn Moore, and Jiff Martin created the following exercise to stimulate people’s thinking about how the network could “change the game” in Connecticut and boldly advance the state towards a reality where “everyone has access to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and affordable food.” Read More
July 10, 2013
“We are what we measure.”
– Whole Measures mantra
From August 20-23, IISC is excited to once again partner with the Center for Whole Communities to offer our jointly created workshop “Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most” at beautiful Knoll Farm in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. This summer’s offering is meant especially for New England-based and focused food system and food security advocates. This includes those working from different angles (production, distribution, access, public health) and scales (neighborhood, community, state, region). Read More
April 3, 2013
“Structure is purpose expressed through design.”
– Marjorie Kelly, Owning Our Future
Detroit Voices: A Community Calls Out for Change from Phase 4 Media on Vimeo.
The new food movement, which is really several related but distinct movements, is a beacon of hope in this country. You can find evidence of this in many diverse settings, from Flint, Michigan to Northeast Iowa to northern Vermont to Oakland, California. While there are important distinctions in terms of emphasis and core players, one cross-cutting theme appears to be that we must create new structures to better nourish ourselves (calorically, economically, socially) through policy change, different land use patterns, new infrastructure, stronger relationships with ecosystems, new enterprises, and community building. From the growing number of food policy councils, to alternative financing mechanisms, practices like permaculture and agroforestry, and more intentional network building, people are setting the stage for some significant societal shifts. Read More
March 20, 2013
|Photo by idleformat|http://www.flickr.com/photos/idleformat/2062534673|
An interesting innovation I’ve seen recently in the realm of network building for social change is the creation of what is being called, in one particular system with which I am working, the “Network Support Team.” In the context of what has emerged to this point as an “alignment network” focused on state-wide food system development and addressing community food insecurity, this volunteer team has stepped forward to help “tend to the whole.” It functions much as a good gardener would in her attempts to nurture abundance and flourishing. As this network considers movement into a more action/production-oriented mode, here is how the NST is helping the garden to grow: Read More
March 13, 2013
|Photo by Alper Cugun|http://www.flickr.com/photos/alper/5222966685|
Last week I posted an entry on this blog about the myriad ways that people and organizations are engaged in “net work” for social change, by profiling three different initiatives focused on strengthening local food systems and food security. Not only is there a difference in the process, but there is also variation in terms of so-called ends or outcomes. The topic of “planning” has come up quite a bit in these networks and many questions asked about what “a plan” looks like in the context of multi-stakeholder/organizational initiatives tackling complex issues. Once again, the answer is that it depends. In both direct experiences at IISC and in additional research about other initiatives, there is a wide variety around what constitutes a plan for social change. Read More
March 7, 2012
Blogging this morning from the Building Energy Conference, New England’s most established cross-disciplinary renewable energy and green building gathering. If you are here, come visit us at our IISC booth! One of the big topics of this year’s conference and trade show is thinking in terms of systems. In this spirit, the following post draws from an email that I recently sent to the convenor of a state-wide system change initiative that is poised to identify strategic points of leverage within the system and its component systems to nudge it in the direction of serving all people equitably in the state and ensuring community food security. Related to this goal is the desire to support a more robust local economy and to work synergistically with ecosystems. I believe the questions listed pertain to any complex dynamic system change effort, whether one is talking about food, education, or community energy use and production, and I welcome your thoughts . . . Read More