Bob Wing, community organizer and writer, is credited with saying, "The only thing you ever really own is your voice." Much our work last week, and in the weeks ahead of us, is about inviting voices to be heard.
Our starting point has been engaging in one-on-one conversations with the SELRS Guiding Group members and core planning team. We're ready now to expand our reach to connect with people involved in the local and regional food system as producers, retailers, distributors and from those whose main experience is accessing and using the food system (eaters). Many of these people came out to our first gathering in Lacombe on August 8th and one of the key questions we keep asking is "who else should we be talking to?"
We want to capture experiences, learn about resources and gather ideas. The people we reach and what we learn from them will be the foundation for initiatives and plans for SELRS as we move forward. We will be compiling the information gathered into a simple database so we can compare responses and find patterns within the many conversations that are taking place.
Closing out 2011, we will be having a 'sense-making' workshop with our Guiding Group and members of the Growing Food Security in Alberta. At this workshop we will use the information we have gathered to identify what our next steps will be and begin to form initiative-specific action groups.
In early 2012, we will host a larger workshop where everyone who has taken part in the conversations and others in the community will be invited to give more input and get involved in S.E.L.R.S. as it moves forward with various initiatives.
If you are interested in being part of this process or know people you think we should be having conversations with - please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, upon reflecting on the relationship building and conversations to date we discovered an opportunity to update the SELRS acronym. The 'R' that stands for regional, in essence, falls within the 'L' which stands for local. Instead, the word “regenerative” has risen to better define the relationships we are (re)building / (re)growing / renewing with all participants in our food system, and with the very natural world they depend on to be Sustainable and Equitable.
So, refresh your web browser, or just write it on your hand – SELRS is now a sustainable, equitable, local and regenerative system for food in Alberta's rural communities. Talk with you soon!
Rene Michalak and Brenda Schroeder, S.E.L.R.S. Facilitator / Animator, Growing Food Security Alberta