Our problems today are shared. They're complex, interdependent and systemic. Where we face challenges in our food system and natural environment, Ag Innovations brings leaders together to move the needle.
Groups often hire facilitators to help them find a sense of certainty and a clear path forward through terrain that, in reality, can offer neither. So how do we serve our clients while also being true to the conditions of the challenges they are facing? One tool that we at Ag Innovations find incredibly useful is the process described by Otto Scharmer of MIT in Theory U.
It’s been four years since Sonoma County’s landmark Healthy & Sustainable Food Action Plan (FAP) became the Sonoma County Food System Alliance's shared vision for the local food system. Last month, over 200 food, farming, and community leaders came together to celebrate the progress made since the adoption of the FAP, and to shape the next phase of action and implementation.
Join us on May 2, as we co-host systems thinking pioneer David Peter Stroh at Sonoma State University. During this evening event he'll share his insights into what systems thinking is, how systems work, and how to use systems thinking to better understand and plan your change efforts. Whether you work for policy reform, on food and farming systems, or other work that seeks to affect change, we believe that there will be lessons for all to glean.
This is the first of two posts on how we work with the persistent stories that often shape the contours of the projects we faciliate. In this article, we look at the stories themselves. In our Spring Innovation Newswire we will look at how we work with them.
One of the most consistent challenges we face in working with stakeholders are concepts and stories that come to be accepted as 'givens'. These stories/concepts become the boundaries around which what is thought be possible must be constructed.
California's drought has surfaced multiple conflicting narratives--ag uses too much water, urban users waste water, or environmental interests are preventing solutions. When mixed together, these conflicting narratives can lead to only one place--gridlock.
Many of these narratives are stereotypes--generalizations about the character of other stakeholders that shape the way we think and feel about them. They tend to be based on our ideas about others and not direct experience.
Every day, a growing number of people come to realize how the changing climate is affecting (and will affect) our lives, economy, health, and environment. Though our solutions must include bold steps to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we must also prepare for the coming crises - that preparation is called climate adaptation. Incidentally, that preparation also brings a host of other benefits that help our community, the natural world, and our society, thrive.
We are in an age of worthy challenges, interdependent and complex, that demand a new kind of leadership. Visionaries have realized that the only way they can really make effective change on these important issues is that they must collaborate.
Ag Innovations is pleased to announce that three of our most respected colleagues have recently joined our Board of Directors: climate scientist Juliet Christian-Smith, PhD from the Union of Concerned Scientists; retired USEPA water expert Jovita Pajarillo; and natural resources management consultant Mark Rentz. These additions bring a high degree of expertise and credibility to our governing body, providing valuable guidance, advice, and oversight during a period of exciting growth and transition at Ag Innovations.
Kick-off meetings for new collective action projects are like big games in sports: if it doesn't go well, it hurts. You have lost a golden opportunity to help a unique collaboration get started on the right foot, and will have to work a lot harder to ensure success. But when it goes well, the group builds the momentum, connections, and buy-in needed to succeed. And that makes any facilitator smile. So how can you set up such a meeting for the win? Read on to find out.
In California’s multiple responses to the drought, there is one key initiative that remains relatively unknown: the California Water Action Plan. The Plan calls for coordinated action to address the dynamic and interconnected challenges faced by the state’s water system. Efficient and effective coordination is exactly what is needed, but the question is, how do the actions of multiple agencies align to advance solutions that are strategic, connected, and adaptive?
- Ag Innovations is Hiring: Program Associate
- Environmental Leaders, Fortune 500s Announce Collaborative Investments to Protect California’s Water Future
- California Roundtable on Water & Food Supply Reviews the California Water Action Plan
- Cultivating California’s Bioeconomy: Turning Ag Waste Into Profit
- Sonoma County Healthy & Sustainable Food Action Plan: 2016 Status Report
- Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan Released
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2014 Salon Series: Finding Higher Ground
Joseph McIntyre, President of Ag Innovations, discusses how to move collaborations to action. Part of Ag Innovations' 'Salon Series' targeted to bring resources to leaders and food system advocates.
2014 Salon Series: Food 'System' Thinking
This Ag Innovations 'Salon' introduces viewers to the concept of systems thinking and how it can assist leaders in developing more effective and durable solutions.
2014 Salon Series: Using Teams Effectively
Groups who can effectively deploy action-oriented teams and committees can increase their impact in the community and more quickly achieve their goals. Watch this Ag Innovations 'Salon' On team effectiveness, through the lens of local food advocacy groups, to learn how to improve your collaboration.