Central Sydney regional forums

Posted on 17. Aug, 2009 by in Regional forums, Sydney - Eastern Suburbs

Work on developing a food policy for NSW has started in earnest with the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance’s (SFFA) Hungry For Change Public Forum at Sydney Customs House, Circular Quay, on 2 July.

Keynote Speaker Michael Shuman, a US economist and attorney working with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, linked his proposals for economic reform with research, funded by the Kellogg and Gates foundations, that he has been conducting into local food systems in the USA.

Local food systems part of viable local economies

Local economics advocate, Michael Shuman, was keynote speaker at Hungry For Change.

Local economics advocate, Michael Shuman, was keynote speaker at Hungry For Change.

A man in his early fifties who lives in Washington DC, Michael brought enthusiasm and passion to his presentations. He believes that locally owned business has a key role in making regions more resilient to the impacts of fluctuations in global markets and to other disruptive events affecting them from outside.

He produced evidence that trading in locally produced and consumed goods and services – including food – extracts more value per dollar for local communities, and this strengthens regional economies.

Michael appeared at the end of his Australian tour that had earlier seen him appear at successful events in Brisbane, northern NSW, Melbourne and Hobart.

His ideas add an economic dimension to the conversation around sustainability, one illustrated by the numerous examples he provided in his talks and one largely missing from the sustainability conversation. The success of his appearances made clear the value of organisations, individuals and local government forming partnerships to share resources and expertise for a common endeavour.

Michael’s Sydney visit was via a collaborative partnership consisting of the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance and Randwick/ Woollara/Waverley’s 3-councils ecological fooprint program in cooperation with Leichhardt Council, City of Sydney, the NSW Early Childhood Environmental Education Network and TransitionSydney. It demonstrated the effectiveness of the create > share > collaborate approach.

World Cafe harvests ideas

Participants fill the room at Customs House for the Hungry For Change Public Forum.

Participants fill the room at Customs House for the Hungry For Change Public Forum.

Following Michael’s presentation and a break for coffee and nibbles, a process based on the World Cafe model of participatory ideas development enabled Forum participants to produce ideas to be taken to the SFFA’s October Food Summit.

Themes that formed the focus for generating ideas were set up on different tables and participants moved from table to table to contribute to the different themes. The table themes included community food systems, ensuring Sydney’s food supply, keeping our food fair, urban planning, getting food to people, sustainable agriculture and food health and safety.

One or two SFFA members or supporters remained at the tables to familiarise new participants with the theme and with what had been done already.

Table experts and facilitators:

Presenting the results of a World Cafe theme table to paticipants.

Presenting the results of a World Cafe theme table to paticipants.

  • Ensuring Sydney’s food future: Table expert & facilitator: Peter Driscoll, TransitionSydney
  • Urban planning: Table expert: Dr Susan Thompson, UNSW School of the Built Environment Facilitator: Ruth Wallsgrove, TransitionSydney
  • Future food for future health: table expert: Liz Millen, Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA) Facilitator: Celia Busteed, Woollahra Council
  • Getting food to people: Table expert: Julian Lee, Food Connect Sydney Facilitiator: Michael Neville, City of Sydney
  • Creating community food systems: table expert: Russ Grayson, SFFA, Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network Facilitator: Lauren Michener, Waverley Council
  • Feeding Sydney locally: Table expert: Dr Frances Parker, University of Western Sydney, who has carried out extensive research into Sydney’s urban fringe agriculture Facilitator: Annie Walker, City of Sydney
  • Keeping our food fair: Table expert: Jill Finnane, SFFA Facilitator: Julie Gaul, NSW ECEEN
  • Real food for Sydney: Table expert: Catriona Macmillan, SFFA Facilitator: Cheryl Walker, Leichhardt Council
  • Closing the loop on food: Table expert & facilitator: Richard Wilson, Randwick City Council, 3-council ecological footprint project manager
  • Creating a food policy for Sydney: Table facilitator: Fiona Campbell, Randwick City Council

SFFA’s growing capacity

Participants discuss topics at the World Cafe tables.

Participants discuss topics at the World Cafe tables.

The professional, organisational and geographic diversity of those gathered around the World Cafe tables demonstrated that the SFFA has the capability to communicate with and appeal to a broad milieu, and that over the few years of its existence the Alliance’s capacity to reach out to the public and to social decision makers has grown.

The recommendations to the October Food Summit from Hungry For Change participants will be written up by the table facilitators and passed on to the Food Summit.

 

Hungry For Change was organised by a team that included:

  • Fiona Campbell, project manager of the event and sustainability educator, Randwick City Council
  • Annie Walker, community gardens and volunteer coordinator, City of Sydney
  • Celia Bustead, environmental educator, Woollahra Council
  • Cheryl Walker, waste educator, Leichhardt Council
  • Lauren Michener, environmental educator, Waverley Council
  • Julie Gall, Early Childhood Environmental Eduction Network
  • Peter Driscoll, TransionSydney
  • Russ Grayson, SFFA.
The SFFA'a Hungry for Change Public Forum was held in the Sydney Customs House at Circular Quay, thanks to support from the City of Sydney.

The SFFA'a Hungry for Change Public Forum was held in the Sydney Customs House at Circular Quay, thanks to support from the City of Sydney.

The City of Sydney had generously made a grant available to support Hungry For Change, the competent services of the its communications department and educators as well as the excellent Customs House venue. Contributions in kind came from Randwick City Council, Woollahra Council, Waverley Council and Leichhardt Council.

Michael Shuman’s visit to Australia was organised by Ken McLeod of the Wollumbin Institute.

Michael Shuman works with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies in the USA. He was the second local economics advocate to visit Australia from that country whose visit had been organised by Ken McLeod. Judy Wicks had been the first. Proprietor of the Black Dog Cafe in Philadelphia and local economics maven, she attended Brisbane’s Go Local conference a year ago and made an appearance in Sydney.

Michelle Margulis, published of the Permaculture Diary and calendar, contributes ideas to a table theme.

Michele Margolis, publisher of the Permaculture Diary and calendar, contributes ideas to a table theme.

Ideas produced through the World Cafe participatory process were documented on mindmaps.

Ideas produced through the World Cafe participatory process were documented on mindmaps.

No comments.

Leave a Reply

*