March 18, 2016
The Michigan Local Food Council Network hosted a virtual meeting focused on membership and leadership development on Feb 24, 2016. Andrea Brown, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Planning, led a presentation and discussion on how to transform the occasional event attendee into a dynamic leader and how to grow council membership beyond the usual participants.
This webinar was given by:
Liz Gensler: Go ahead and get started. Again, thanks to those of you who have joined us on this lovely snowy day that reminds us it is still winter. Welcome to the Michigan Local Food Council Network's Webinar on Leadership and Engagement. We'll have Andrea Brown from the Michigan Association of Planning doing the majority of the presenting. And Megan Masson-Minock, our coordinator for that work, will be presenting a bit as well. And I am, for those of you who don't me, Liz Gensler. I'm with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems which sponsors this network. So just wanted to go through a few of the basics about the network. The Michigan Association of Planning [inaudible], which is Megan's organization and [inaudible] coordinate the network together. The network has, as you guys know because you're all on it, the Michigan Local Food Council Network [inaudible] where we put out regular information in the eNewsletter, trying to keep you posted on the things that are coming across our desks that seem relevant. Do these training webinars three times a year, and then do three in-person meetings to help people get together, network, and exchange ideas. And again, a reminder, the mission of the Local Food Council Network is to bring together councils to build their individual and their collective capacities to work on food and food policy, operate effectively and engage in their communities with peer-to-peer learning.
Megan Masson-Minock: Hi, I'm Megan, and welcome to everybody. One of the things that we also wanted to hit on was the role of the Council and we provide a space for local councils to network together, connect you to statewide information and policy, assist in capacity building, provide hands-on training, and local policy information, as well as connecting you to other parts of the state as well as what's going on, on a national level. The -- we've started the network officially in May of last year, and so midway through, about six months into it, we sent out a survey to folks through the listserv asking people what they wanted to see in the next six months. And these were -- 11 councils responded. And especially for webinars that were online like this one, folks asked for the role of -- training on the role of local councils in the community, council and board membership training, and organizing and engaging community members. Today's webinar is going to address all three of those issues. Fundraising is something that other -- four councils were interested in. We know that a number of you are, and we're going to save that for another time. But today we're going to do a webinar with these objectives. And I'm going to turn this over to Andrea Brown for her to go through it. Just for those of you who haven't met Andrea, she's the Executive Director of Michigan Association of Planning, and has been since -- the past twelve years. It's almost a 4000-member organization from people across Michigan who are either professional planners, planning consultants, or locally your appointed officials. And I know that she has a great amount of expertise in leadership development and membership development for a nonprofit organization that's working in policy and change. So I'm going to turn it over to Andrea.
Andrea Brown: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. Oops, sorry. Quickly, we'll go over the webinar objectives. Some of the things that we hope to cover today, or the objectives are to help the network members organize local efforts and better engage community members to provide tips and techniques to support leadership development within and outside of your local network. And to help with tactics and strategies to market and promote your network, and increase awareness of the initiative within the community and across the region. First we'd like to do some introductions. And a little bit of a background. We want to know who's on the call: your name, which council you're with, and to answer one of these questions. Question of your choice. Liz is going to open up the microphones now. Nobody wants to --?
Liz Gensler: Microphones should be open now, so people can chime in as they see fit.
Andrea Brown: Okay, Scott. Liz, Scott's microphone.
Liz Gensler: I can't control the muting, so if Scott, if I could get you to unmute. It should be, I think, I'm not sure if it's the lower left-hand or upper left-hand corner of the screen, and there should be an icon that looks like an old-timey microphone.
Andrea Brown: If you take your arrow to the top, it should open up a bar with options, or your bar might be at the bottom. Okay, well --
Liz Gensler: There we go.
Scott: Oh okay, alright. So I'm part of a group called the Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan. It's in Petoskey. And we're not really a local food council, per se. We haven't quite evolved to that level of sophistication yet. But we're just basically a group of citizens and people who work in the area to get together to raise awareness and to try to catalyze actions to move ahead on local food and farming issues here. So policy is one of the areas that kind of is in the scope of what we do. And of course, depending on how broadly you define policy, that could include a number of things. So we're not really at the point of development as some of the other groups around the state. Mostly I just wanted to listen and learn about what's going on elsewhere and get some ideas as we evolve here. We might be able to address more actively sort of engagements with the governments and the business community and others on policy issues.
Andrea Brown: Great. Anyone else?
Sharon Sheldon: Hi, this is Sharon Sheldon, can you hear me?
Andrea Brown: We can.
Sharon Sheldon: Okay, good. So I don't have a little picture coming up, but that's okay. I'm from the Washtenaw Food Policy Council. And I guess one of our big, top priority for last year and going into this year is to continue to try to engage a broad cross-section of the community in the work of the Food Policy Council, so continuing to build awareness of the Food Policy Council, and to get volunteers from different municipalities across the county to participate in some of our policy action teams and/or just start to explore a little bit more, like our website, sign up for the listserv. So I think we're continuing to just try to spread the word, build awareness, communicate our policy agenda. And so I guess maybe communications and awareness and building membership are our sort of trifecta of one broad goal that we're really trying to continue to work toward.
Andrea Brown: Well great, because that's exactly what we're talking about today. So, fantastic! Is there anyone else on the line?
Laura Goddeeris: Can you all hear me? This is Laura.
Andrea Brown: We can! Hi, Laura.
Laura Goddeeris: Hi! So I'm Laura Goddeeris. I'm also with the Center for Regional Food Systems, not directly working with any local council. But as many of you know, I do research and outreach related to food systems planning and policy, particularly in the area of building local government capacity. So I'm interested in staying connected to this network and kind of thinking about how some of our partners in that more nationally focused outreach and research might be kind of brought in to build capacity here within our state. So that could be groups, you know, one in particular that keeps coming up is - I'm on the advisory committee for the Food Policy Networks Project out of the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins. So there may be some opportunities there to partner on training or other activities, so I'm mainly here to listen.
Andrea Brown: Great! Nice to see you, Laura. Anyone else on the line? Okay, a small but mighty group today.
Andrea Brown: Alright. We have a number of questions that we'll be pausing to ask throughout the webinar. These are those questions. There will be an icon that alerts you to these questions coming up, and you may be asked to respond to a quick online survey that will pop up on the screen. Or alternatively, we may open up the microphones for a conversation so that we can all, so that we all can learn together. So Michigan local food councils are locally focused. They are usually focused on a city or on a village, a county, or a region with some issues reaching up to the state. And to a lesser degree to the federal level. But what this means is that the primary audience for your council activities is local. And so we're going to be focusing a lot of our information today on how to, how to connect with those local audiences, and then how to create local leaders. A food council's greatest value is as a source of information for the policy-makers in government, and we're going to be talking quite a bit about this as well in terms of government really being one of your strongest allies in terms of advancing policies, rules, regulations, and programs that can have community-wide impact.
A council can help government agencies see how their actions affect the food system. Food, in many ways, is a fairly new topic for local governments, and some are more advanced and sophisticated than others in their understanding about their role as policymakers around food. But it is an area where there is a lot of opportunity for councils to influence those policies. The council can be a bridge between the public and private sectors on food issues. You can be a primary source of food education for residents and business owners. And possibly most importantly, you can foster communication and civic action at the grassroots level. So I did a little bit of reconnaissance before putting this program together, looking sort of across all of the local food policy councils in the state to see how many had strategic plans or work plans and what those look like. And many councils do have strategic plans or work plans. Some of the common elements in these plans include a vision statement which is a great opportunity to outreach to a large, deep, and wide cross-section of stakeholders, interested citizens and businesses across your community to help develop that vision.
A mission statement, what you exist for, goals and objectives, and strategies and actions -- a really important aspect of the work plan or strategic plan that really specifies exactly how you want to get to what your vision, what your vision says. The strategies and actions include things like how are you building and strengthening your local council? Are you grooming your leaders? What do you want to do? What projects and initiatives? How are you making it meaningful to the stakeholders and participants that you hope to engage with? And how do you give these interested entities something to do? So we'll pause here and do a quick survey of our members. Does your council or your group, in Scott's case, have a work plan or a strategic plan? If not, are you working on one? DO you wish to work on one? Should this be popping up?
Andrea Brown, Megan Masson-Minock, Liz Gensler