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Stuck Stories: Working With Intractable Ideas, Part 1

Image representing Stuck Stories: Working With Intractable Ideas, Part 1

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.



Purple Wheat: Growing a New Food System Collaboratively

Image representing Purple Wheat: Growing a New Food System Collaboratively

Ask anyone on the street if they can name at least two types of tomatoes, and they'd probably throw out "Roma" and "cherry" without missing a beat. Can they list two different market classes or varieties of wheat? Are there even different varieties of wheat? In a way they'd be correct in thinking that there isn’t much diversity. The reason for this is in large part due to the success of the globalized, industrialized food system. It has caused the disappearance of many of the local mills, grain dryers, and other infrastructure that is needed to bring a new variety to the local marketplace. So even once a purple wheat variety is released and grown by a farmer, the road from the field to the oven will be an arduous one. That’s why collaboration is the single-most important ingredient in growing the local food system. We need spaces where the farmer can meet with the baker and the crop breeder and the lender and the policymaker. Because not only do we need to grow new crops, but we also need to grow new relationships and a new business ecosystem.



Ag Innovations is Hiring: Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint Project Manager

Ag Innovations is hiring a Project Manager to support the successful completion of a community engagement planning process for the Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint project. The Project Manager will support the completion of a Blueprint conservation assessment drawing on the expertise and aspirations of technical and community participants across Santa Barbara County. This is a part-time 12-18 month temporary position.



New Collaboration: North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative

Image representing New Collaboration: North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative

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.


Tags: Leadership, Systems Change, Facilitation, Collaboration, Climate Change, Climate Adaptation

Taking a More Holistic Approach to Food Hub Feasibility: Measuring the Impact of Value Chain Coordination

Image representing Taking a More Holistic Approach to Food Hub Feasibility: Measuring the Impact of Value Chain Coordination

In this 3-part series, Ag Innovations is examining food hub feasibility in a non-traditional way. This series weaves together insights from a growing body of food systems research and past experience in food hub development. In our first post, Efficacy of Food Hubs, we agreed on the USDA’s current definition of a food hub, then called for practitioners to expand their thinking about how their projects affect other parts of the food system. In our second post, we called on practitioners to build collaborative processes into their planning phases to reduce risk and create thriving partnerships. This final blog in our series shines a spotlight on the importance of value chain coordinators (also known as market facilitators) in food hub development and operation, and illustrates the need to measure the impact of their efforts.


Tags: Agriculture, Collaboration, Food Hubs, Regional Food Systems, Economic Development

Media Mentions

Science news: Designing for uncertainty with Theory U; California’s Delta-groundwater nexus; Missing the boat on freshwater fish conservation in California; Measuring drought in more than dollars and cents; and more …

Designing for uncertainty with Theory U:  “As anyone who has ever tried to work with a group on a complex design challenge knows, uncertainty is one of the most predictable parts of the job. Whether the topic is groundwater management, farm-worker housing, or building a local food alliance, project leaders are faced with the same challenge: they must bring together diverse …

More at Maven's Notebook

Blog round-up: Speaker Boehner blames CA drought on Obama, Public land management at a crossroads, Water wars from the top of the watershed, Groundwater crap detecting 101, and more …

Facilitating California's groundbreaking groundwater governance system: “The historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in the fall 2014, providing the first comprehensive framework for regulating groundwater in California. The timeline is tight for local agencies to implement the act, and the state has recognized the pressing need to connect water …

More at Maven's Notebook

Blog round up: Temperature management on the Sacramento River, Economist advise how to manage drought, changing California’s water rights system, Arizona’s Colorado River zeitgeist and more …

A strategic, connected and adaptive California Water Action Plan?  Lucas Patzek writes, “In California’s multiple responses to the drought, there is one key initiative that remains relatively unknown: the California Water Action Plan (Plan). The Plan calls for coordinated action to address the dynamic and interconnected challenges faced by the state’s water system. Thus …

More at Maven's Notebook

Growing Our Farms Forum

Evan Wiig of The Farmers Guild, a fiscally sponsored project of Ag Innovations, was interviewed about the Growing Our Farms forum in Sonoma County. Ag Innovations' project, the Sonoma County Food System Alliance helped produce the event and President, Joseph McIntyre facilitated.

More at KRCB

Hunger Forum Radio Coverage

Joseph McIntyre was interviewed about the issue of hunger in Sonoma County on radio station KRCB.

More at KRCB

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