Roots of Change Council Convenes Meeting with California Food System Advocates
The Roots Of Change (ROC) Council convened for a July meeting of more than 60 food system advocates from throughout California.
Updates were presented from three ROC-funded Food System projects: A California county leadership network strengthening the collaboration among leaders working on county-level food systems issues; a statewide partnership working on key state food policy initiatives; and the Vivid Picture project. The primary goal of the meeting was to introduce California food and farm leaders to the Vivid Picture project and to invite comments from the group on possible indicators for measuring the health of the food system in California.
The Vivid Picture project is a research project designed to build a dynamic and actionable model for a food system that supports the communities, economies, ecosystems, and people of California.
To make this vision as complete and vibrant as possible, the meeting brought together a cross-section of leaders including funders, public interest advocates, business people, university researchers, and others with a common interest in accelerating the transition to a more sustainable food and agriculture system for California.
Vivid Picture organizers shared some of the draft results from preliminary focus groups and interviews. These results form some of the underlying principles and values that will serve as the backbone of an intentionally developed future food system. The themes discussed ranged from maintaining soil viability to the accessibility of affordable quality food to poor and rural communities.
Small groups were formed around the possible principals, or values, of the future system. Each small group brainstormed potential indicators of their principal, as well as for data sources.
Many of the attendees expressed excitement about the scope of the project and inspiration from the gathering of such a wide array of stakeholders. Across the board, people were enthusiastic about the connections that the meeting fostered. Many people also commented on the potential power of focusing so many diverse groups around the common goal of the Vivid Picture.
Feedback forms from the meeting included suggestions to have more input from participants on the final list of principals for the future food system. Other suggestion included the need to involve more actors from Southern California. Some attendees commented on their desire to see more representation from stakeholders from conventional agriculture. One attendee, evaluating the meeting, wrote, "I am concerned that conventional agriculture wasn't represented. It seems that since conventional farmers dominate the agriculture industry in California now, that they may also play a role 25 years from now, so it would be good to incorporate them in this process."
Such feedback is essential, and this participation is a key part of the projects methodology. Both the project team and the ROC Council were appreciative of the participation of everyone who attended the meeting.
The ROC Fund was pleased with the gathering and its outcomes."The meeting was productive and challenging. The team working on the Vivid Picture walked away with an abundance of ideas and information to shape the principles and indicators of the project and a great deal of information was exchanged between the meeting participants on the many innovative and visionary solutions underway in California," offered Jamaica Maxwell, ROC Fund program director.
Project Teams that attended the meeting
Vivid Picture Project
Sustainable Food System Partnership Project
Building Momentum For Change Leadership Network
Public Interest Leaders