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Leaders of Food Systems Change Gather in Minneapolis

By Jamie Bain, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

On November 28 and 29, almost 80 food network leaders from across the state of Minnesota came together in Minneapolis to harness the power of connectivity and collaboration to implement Minnesota Food Charter strategies. The group was diverse, energized, and fully engaged. University of Minnesota Extension’s Health and Nutrition food charter engagement leads, along with a planning team of food network leaders and community partners, organized two days of radical learning, engaging activities, and meaningful networking.

The attendee list for this “unconference” was kept small. Organizers wanted to create a space in which attendees could enter into deep, meaningful, and vulnerable conversations about collaboration, authentic community engagement, race, and justice. Attendees met new people and learned about work taking place in different “silos” of the food system. Attendees were encouraged to break down the silos and, as one presenter put it, to start working in “spheres.” Spheres have round edges. They roll around, bump into others, and can even merge. These mobile, malleable spheres (or bubbles) were an apt metaphor for the intention of the convening. See Patricia Olson’s reflection on this event for more on bubbles: ‘We Are the People’.

four people around a circular table covered with marker writing
Director of Programs Patricia Olson contributes to breaking down silos.
Photo credit: Noelle Harden.

Some attendees came into the convening hesitant or unsure if they should be there. After two days together, however, many attendees articulated what a transformative event the convening had been. They also expressed a strengthened commitment to engaging in community driven collaborative work to advance the Minnesota Food Charter.

To build on the momentum gained through the convening, follow up with an attendee today: List of Attendees – Convening of Food Network Leaders in Minnesota.
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