Good Food Life: Kathryn Lynch Underwood

Kathryn Lynch Underwood, City Planner, City of Detroit City Planning Commission - Detroit

Kathryn Lynch Underwood is a City Planner for the City of Detroit.

What is your role with the City Planning Commission?

KLU: I am a City Planner for the City of Detroit.

How does the City Planning Commission work towards the goals of the Good Food Charter?

KLU:  Through the devising and supporting of policy around urban agriculture in Detroit, we work to support Sustainability and Equity within the city. This is done through facilitating citizen participation, on an individual and community level, around creating a diverse and resilient food system in Detroit.


What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?

KLU: It is work one can see through the many gardens and farmers markets throughout the City. Also, the urban ag community in Detroit is robust and organized – always seeking to push personal, political, and structural limits regarding any challenges to the growth of food security and food sovereignty.


What opportunities do you see for moving towards the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and where do you see those leading in the next five to ten years?

KLU: We will continue to frame the discussion of how Detroit’s food system can be developed, in which urban agriculture is a component. We want to participate in all aspects of the food value chain within the food system to increase food security, provide opportunities for economic development, and establish a place for Detroit to participate within the broader aspects of food production, processing, and distribution, supporting agriculture in southeast Michigan and perhaps beyond.


What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience with working towards the goals of the Good Food Charter that you’d like to share with others?

KLU: I’d like to share the importance of multi-stakeholder engagement – it should be robust, deep, intentional and by design. It is of the utmost importance to get as many diverse voices as possible to give input on policymaking. There is a need to include more than just the “usual suspects” – whoever they are in your community – and those one or two “minority” voices! 

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