Tags:An account of the Food Policy Council's workings, from Katie Souris:
Asheville's new Food Policy Council is leaving the mall with a brand new pair of pants, and it will be wearing them around town for a few months (come on, we've all been guilty of it) to see how they fit.
The fledgling FPC has been a legitimate mall of sorts up until now; interested parties from all backgrounds and missions convening in UNCA's Sherrill Center to discuss, hash out, deliberate, and ultimately dynamically agree what this web should support. Through a trial run of Dynamic Governance in action we decided that this mode of decision making would govern the 7 clusters that are taking shape out of the large group.
The third and final FPC meeting was geared to establish how many representatives each cluster would send to a central circle and how many and what those clusters would be. This was no easy task since as I mentioned we were also charged to decide on a way to decide. That success is arguably the most important thing to come from our meeting, as Dynamic Governance (a new concept to many of us more familiar with Consensus or shouting modes of decision making), could enable our Council to make....progress, consistently, and to work together, listening to all voices at the table. Accomplishing what has been repeated as the goal of inclusivity and representation of the under-represented.
Luckily within our current human asset map that UNCA intern Madeline Long has compiled from responses by individuals on the email list we already have a team of folks familiar (and quite adept) at Dynamic Governance. We dealt specifically with the final step where proposals move from concepts to actions. We learned about the method through experiencing it at our tables, each table guided by a capable facilitator. Dynamic Governance differs from Consensus decision making in key, but often subtle ways. For one, instead of being based on consensus it is based on consent. See the difference? I didn't either. But it's not all in semantics. Consensus looks for agreement whereas consent looks for arguable objections that can be overcome through adaptation. Some might call that adaption compromise; a necessary tool in an organization created from this many perspectives.
The seven clusters will start out as Communications, Asset Mapping, Legislation-Policy- Advocacy, Land-Use Policy, Public Health-Wellness-Education, Access, and Local Food Flow which will be broken down into Community Producers and Commercial Producers. Asset Mapping is intended as a temporary, until the mission is done, group. Some thoughtful questions arose that will have to be answered through experience as the Council leaps into its future role in the community. Some asked, “What if I'm interested in two groups?” Or more puzzling, “What if my interest lies between groups or within none at all?” “How will I represent myself fully?” Others followed, “If there is enough support can we create another cluster?” “How do we incorporate youth?” How do we get growers and food providers present in every cluster?” “How do we work towards our goals through including those that may represent a conflicting interest?”
But the good news is that the FPC is dressed up and ready to go, seeing how far it can stride and whether or not if can sit down comfortably (ladies, you understand, too tight is not alright). Of course it's going to change, and with all these thinkers and dreamers already dedicated to it, that change is going to be for the better each time. And most importantly, in a moment when the room had realized how much we have ahead of us and how big this issue is, Gordon Smith stood up and reminded us that our success is not just a hypothetical future, it is already on the books with the recent unanimous decision from City Council to permit farmer's markets to be held at schools, places of worship, and community centers in residential neighborhoods. So get up, grab hands, and give a celebratory shout, and if you're not already, plug yourself into Asheville's FPC, for everyone's food security.