• Description

In September of 2019, 70 people from across the U.S. came together to learn from each other about the work of coordinating state level food system plans. The initial intention for this gathering was to surface promising practices of developing and implementing food systems plans—meaning guiding documents, such as the Michigan Good Food Charter or the Vermont Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, that are developed with public input, set out a vision for the food system of a particular place, and identify high priority policies and strategies. Over the course of planning and hosting the three day convening, it became clear that a focus exclusively on technical practices was neither practical nor what participants were most interested in. Instead, it was the complex and adaptive process of bringing people together and the way in which we shared our time that most resonated with many participants. To share more about the design and experience of the gathering, we—the facilitation team—first decided to write a reflection shortly after the event. Much has happened in the months that have followed. The urgency of our present moment in time can no longer be downplayed. The tumultuous events of 2020 have brought the long-standing inequities of our society into stark relief. Six months ago, we were prepared to inspire you to bring values and a focus on equity into your food systems work. Now, we are sending out a call to deep care and accountability to our fellow food system practitioners. If you are not actively working to counter white supremacy culture and structural racism, then your food systems work is in vain and you are reinforcing the status quo.