Amidst the hustle and bustle of food systems leadership, getting together with friends and colleagues to talk shop over a cup of coffee or tea (or something stronger!) can be a rare treat. That’s especially true for connecting with peers working in other parts of the country… besides national convenings and conferences, our ability to connect with other food systems leaders is limited by time, budget, and distance. Not to mention the pandemic!
But when we do come together, we return to our work with fresh perspective, new ideas, and a renewed sense of purpose and connection.
The FSLN’s Coffee Chats offer members the space and opportunity to do just that – connect, learn about each other’s work, and share knowledge, ideas, and inspiration.
Coffee Chat Logistics
Once a month, FSLN members are welcome to join us for an informal, peer-to-peer conversation around a specific topic that matters to this community. Each chat begins with a brief “interview” with a special guest with expertise in community-based food systems. Following this introduction and technical background, chats open up to the wider group for comments, discussion, and Q&A.
Registration is required for each coffee chat. Keep an eye out in the Catalyst (our monthly newsletter) for announcements and registration links!
Information on upcoming Coffee Chats is below.
We’ve also had requests for support around effective meeting practices and DIY strategy retreats. What topics interest you that you’d like to learn more about? Would you like to share your knowledge and expertise with others?
Drop us a line! We’d love to hear what topics are important to you and/or have you join our Coffee Chat line up. Email email@example.com with your ideas.
Upcoming Coffee Chats
September 23: Evaluation
September 23 at 2pm Eastern
During this month’s coffee chat, we’ll share a new evaluation framework for the FSLN, and the process Wallace Center staff have used in developing it. We’ll then open for discussion for participants to chance to provide feedback and share how they define success.
October 20: Network Activation Coffee Chat: Sustaining Engagement in Networks
October 20th at 3pm Eastern
Join us to explore the various ways to sustain member engagement in networks. Additional details coming soon.
Read more about the Network Activation series here.
Previous Coffee Chats
Explore details and notes from previous FLSN Coffee Chats.
Network Activation Call Series
The Network Activation Series, hosted by the Food Systems Leadership Network, is a 6 part series that offers space to learn with and from peers about strategies and best practices for dealing with some of the common challenges of building and sustaining impactful networks. Learn more about the topics and access notes here from past calls here.
How to Make Online Convenings Productive, Impactful & Engaging
This FSLN Coffee Chat explore how others are experimenting with ways to create online events that are engaging and valuable for participants. Rachael Reichenbach and Sera Deva shared how they have taken conferences, trainings, and workgroup meetings online, and what they’ve learned in the process.
Rachael is a freelance facilitator based in Alabama who has spent much of her quarantine time supporting food systems organizations and networks in the South to redesign in-person convenings and trainings for the virtual realm.
Sera Deva is the Director of Programs & Systems Design at Organic Growers School, and has been working to transition 40+ annual in-person events (from farm tours to 2000 person conference) online.
Supporting Backyard Victory Gardens
After schools and other community sites closed, garden-based programming was adapted to build household food sovereignty and resilience. During this call we heard from Deb Crockett and Beau Gromley from Garden Raised Bounty about how backyard victory gardens are supporting their community.
CSA Program Adaptations to COVID-19
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a key strategy to support farmers and provide critical access to healthy food during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March of 2020, many programs transitioned food access programs to a CSA model, incorporating home delivery, multi-farm boxes, and other creative approaches. During this FSLN Coffee chat, FSLN members shared strategies for adapting and serving their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From leading community meetings to team meetings, facilitation is a key skill for food systems leaders. Facilitation is key to delivering our services, developing new ideas, and is a systems leadership skill for making change with groups. But it’s not always easy to encourage people to speak up! In this Coffee Chat, we explored tools and practices that facilitate conversation amongst group members and enable all voices to be heard. We heard from Rachael Reichenbach, Erica Williams, Noemi Giszpenc, and Joseph McIntyre on how they’ve used different techniques and gathered resources for all to use.
Fiscal Sponsorship – An Alternative to the 501c3
For both emerging and well-established projects and initiatives, fiscal sponsorship can be an effective alternative model to an independent 501c(3), allowing you to pursue your passion to make the world a better place instead of spending an inordinate amount of time – and resources – on becoming a registered IRS tax-exempt organization. Guest speaker Tamira Jones manages the fiscal sponsorship program at the Earth Island Institute, a Steering Member of the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors, and shared more about fiscal sponsorship including its benefits and things to consider when you’re exploring this alternative legal model.
Accessing and Leveraging Pro-Bono Support
Pro bono is a unique way to access highly skilled volunteers who will help you think through and complete strategic projects – for free – but it’s not leveraged in our sector as frequently as it could be. In this chat, we were joined by the Taproot Foundation to learn more about pro bono and the Taproot+ tool that matches non-profits with volunteers.
Continuing with the theme of collaboration, we discussed a key component of working towards successful collaborations- facilitation. We explored questions like what tools can help build trust and how can we support facilitation when we’re not the lead facilitator?
Board Engagement Skill Share
This Coffee Chat built on the momentum of the previous month’s call on fundraising to discuss strategies for engaging board members in fundraising and resource development, challenges and tips for creating a board culture, and incorporating equity into your board structure.
Fundraising Skill Share
FSLN members shared discussed pros and cons of planning fundraising events, shared examples of past and upcoming fun and creative event ideas, and offered tips for engaging board members throughout the event fundraising process.
Volunteer Engagement with Joe Bobman and Taylor Crotty of Food Forward
Food Forward, southern California’s largest urban gleaning nonprofit, discussed their robust volunteer program (they work with over 4,000 volunteers annually and host close to 200 events per month!) and shared strategies, ideas, and resources for engaging volunteers in food systems work.
21 Day Racial Equity Challenge with Karen Spiller
Karen Spiller, one of the lead facilitators of Food Solutions New England‘s 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, offered background, insights, and advice for participants of the challenge.