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Unprecedented Collaboration: Vermont in Collective Impact to Transform a Food System

If Vermont can do it, surely so can we, North Carolina! WNC has a particularly innovative  local food culture, boasting one of the most vibrant food cultures in the country, infrastructure support for those systems, and developing extensive supply chain, regional and local economic development priorities for local, healthy food. However, WNC also has a reputation for siloing, a history of “stingy culture” (low wages and we are third in the nation for food hardship), duplication of efforts (highest per capita number of non-profits in the country is one example I’ve heard cited), factioning and turfism amongst local, regional and state organizations.. This lack of true cooperation is detrimental to our region, and perhaps why, even with all of our amazing accolades for a vibrant food culture, still only 2% of the food consumed locally is produced locally. We have alot of good, smart people with heart who perhaps can see beyond their turf to the bigger picture and come together to truly accelerate our local food economy, accelerating farmers out of poverty and accelerating better health for our populous . Maybe a little friendly “coopetition” with Vermont can ignite a vibrant statewide food systems serving ALL of WNC and the state.

“I have seen the future of how we can transition to a healthy local food system and it is in Vermont. Picture this: 180 people from all parts of the state’s food system, in one room, reflecting on how they have worked together over the past year in a coordinated way towards goals of doubling local food production, increasing jobs, and improving access to healthy food for all Vermonters. Picture a network that connects and provides the structure for collaboration among farmers, food processors, food businesses, retailers, consumers, policy makers, state agencies, university researchers, technical assistance providers, educators, non-profits, and funders. Picture these conversations informed by data and ideas gathered through in-depth research and stakeholder input of over 1,200 people in the state, summarized in a close to 1,000 page strategic plan” (eek, 1000 pages, but if 1200 people are implementing, maybe not so bad!).

Here’s the full article  and I’ll be advocating for this with my friends in state, regional, local governments and the private and non-profit sectors 🙂

Vermont Collective Impact to Transform a Food System

1 reply
  1. Michelle Smith
    Michelle Smith says:

    I’m so excited to see Accelerating Appalachia open up this window on Collective Impact for our region. Collective Impact is an idea that thought-leaders in every sector are paying attention to and looking to practice here in WNC and Upstate SC.

    Recently the authors of Collective Impact have identified that where participants experience frustration is that not many people know how to set up processes and structures that create the conditions of CI — processes for fair decision-making that are also efficient and structures for cooperation that allow for clear communication throughout the organization..

    Tracy Kunkler and I have observed that the methods and tools of Dynamic Governance provide a structure that produces the conditions required for Collective Impact.

    Our two-day workshop earlier this week, which focused on steering a collective movement toward food security, brought together several groups who have been or are beginning to practice Collective Impact on large region-wide projects. These people were indeed experiencing exactly the frustration and confusion identified by the authors of CI.

    Learning and experiencing Dynamic Governance sparked “Aha!” moments for these folks. They were able to see clearly how DG is a perfect fit for CI and they are excited to begin using what they learned and gain more help with implementation.

    Dynamic Governance Institute is planning a Funders Training for Dynamic Governance June 3 & 4, 2013 as well as training for Social Enterprise Leaders and Associations later in the summer. You can follow us on twitter @dginstitute.com.

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