Land of Plenty: How Should We Ensure that People Have the Food They Need? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The 25-page issue guide, Land of Plenty: How Should We Ensure that People Have the Food They Need?, was published June 2017 from National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation.. The issue guide offers participants three options to use during deliberation on how to address the inequities within the current food system and how to create a world where all people have the food they need to thrive. The issue guide is available to download for free on NIFI’s site here, where you can also find a post-forum questionnaire.

From NIFI…

All of us affect, and are affected by, the food system: students who grow and eat carrots and tomatoes from their school garden; farm owners who maintain patches of natural habitat for bees; immigrants who hand-pick our apples, grapes, and oranges; public employees who design food-nutrition labels and monitor food safety; restaurant workers who take our orders and serve our meals; food reporters who write about ethnic cuisine; local groups of gleaners who keep edible food out of the dumpster and put it to good use; food pantries that teach teenagers to garden on vacant lots; parents who work to stretch their food budgets to the next payday; policymakers who determine agricultural subsidies; community members who advocate for policies to ensure that all of us have the food we need.

While we have one of the most productive and efficient food systems in the world, millions of people in the US still fall between the cracks. People who may have enough to eat today worry about the availability and quality of food for future generations.

This guide explores different approaches and actions that are, or could be, taken to create a food system that works for all of us. While the approaches overlap in some respects, they do suggest different priorities and involve different trade-offs. With this in mind, what should we do to ensure that people from all walks of life have the food they need?

This issue guide placemat presents three options for deliberation:

Option 1: Improve Access to Nutritious Food
Despite our nation’s abundance of food, some people still don’t have enough to eat, which undermines their health, productivity, and overall well-being. According to this option, we need a food system that ensures everyone has a stable source of affordable, nutritious food. We must strengthen our school nutrition programs and food assistance for low-income families, as well as improve access to fresh food in rural and low-income communities.

Option 2: Pay More Attention to the Multiple Benefits of Food
We have drifted away from traditions and principles that once helped us enjoy a healthier relationship to food, according to this option. We all need to be better informed about the foods we choose, their nutritional value, and how they’re produced and processed. Rather than allowing food advertisements to determine our choices, we need to pay closer attention to what we value about our food, traditions, and well-being.

Option 3: Be Good Stewards of the Food System
We are not managing our food system as well as we should, according to this option. We must do more to safeguard the quality and availability of food for generations to come. Good stewardship is needed at every link in the food-supply chain, from the seeds we plant to the reduction of food waste. It also includes preserving our natural resources, choosing sustainable methods of production, and strengthening the food-system workforce.

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NIF-Logo2014About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/land-of-plenty

Energy Choices: What Should We Do About America’s Energy Future? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The issue guide placemat, What Should We Do About America’s Energy Future?, was published on National Issues Forums Institute site in Summer 2017. This issue guide gives three options for participants to deliberate around the issue of how America’s energy consumption is sustainable.

In addition to the issue guide placemat, there is also a post-forum questionnaire available to download on NIFI’s site here.

From the guide…

Meeting the United States’ substantial appetite for energy raises a complex network of economic, environmental, and political issues. There are national-security and economic concerns, environmental problems like air and water pollution, and potential climate-change effects from fossil fuels, such as extreme weather, sea- level rise, and changing growing seasons.

Americans have long been aware of the wide- ranging impacts of fueling our energy needs, along with ever-increasing global demands. This awareness is reflected in growing support for clean energy, development of new ways to extract oil and natural gas, efforts to do more with less power, and so on.

Concerns over foreign entanglements, terrorism, and carbon pollution from fossil fuels have grown. At the same time, new domestic production from oil, natural gas, and renewable sources has helped America move closer to energy independence. New technologies for power production, storage, vehicle fuels, and energy efficiency are proliferating. The question is how to navigate this changing landscape and arrive at an energy future that supports a thriving economy.

This guide presents three options based on views and concerns of people from across the country. Any path we choose will put some of these concerns into tension with some others. Our task is to deliberate, or weigh options for action against the things that people hold valuable. What should America do to ensure a continuing supply of energy to meet our needs as well as those of our children and grandchildren?

This issue guide placemat presents three options for deliberation:

Option 1: Keep America Self-Reliant and Stable
We should use our own abundant natural resources to produce all the energy we need to fuel our economy and avoid entanglements in unstable and unfriendly regions. Relying on the market and technological advancements will continue to lead us to a cleaner energy future, BUT large-scale energy production, even solar and wind power, has major environmental impacts, and unfairly affects communities near facilities like mines, refineries, and transmission lines. Furthermore, the transition to cleaner energy may not occur quickly enough to stave off the threat of climate change.

Option 2: Take Local Responsibility for Clean Energy
If we want our country to transition to clean, low-carbon power, everyone needs to participate, as not only a consumer but also a producer. Currently, most of the electricity in our system flows one way, from large power plants through transmission and distribution lines to end users. We need to decentralize that system to enable more clean, locally produced energy to ow where it is needed, BUT retooling our power grid and fueling infrastructure could be costly, take a long time, and cause economic disruptions. This would change how our communities look and how we live, and add a responsibility for producing power, which people may not want or be able to afford.

Option 3: Find Ways to Use Less Energy
We should aggressively reduce energy use and boost efficiency. Energy consumption in the United States has leveled off recently, but to tackle climate change, we must rapidly reduce carbon emissions. Using less energy could also lead to greater security, BUT requiring energy conservation could restrict personal choices and limit economic growth. And tackling climate change could depend more on replacing fossil fuels with cleaner fuels than on how much energy we use.

NIF-Logo2014About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/energy-choices

Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The 25-page issue guide, Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet?, was published April 2016 from National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation, in collaboration with, North American Association for Environmental Education. Climate change is undeniable, this issue guide offers participants three options to use during deliberation on how to address our warming world. The issue guide is available to download for free on NIFI’s site here, where you can also find: the moderator’s guide, an options chart, and a post-forum questionnaire.

NIFI_Climate ChoicesFrom NIFI…

The Environment and Society Series is designed to promote meaningful, productive deliberation, convened locally and online, about difficult issues that affect the environment and communities.

All around is evidence that the climate is changing. Summers are starting earlier and lasting longer. Heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense. Dry regions are getting drier and wet regions are seeing heavier rains. Record cold and snowfalls blanket some parts of the country, while record fires ravage forests across the West.

The effects are being felt across many parts of the United States. Farmworkers in California’s Central Valley, snow-weary New England business owners, crab fishermen in Alaska, and cattle ranchers across the Great Plains have all seen uncommon and extreme weather. Occasional odd weather and weather cycles are nothing unusual.

But the more extreme and unpredictable weather being experienced around the world points to dramatic changes in climate— the conditions that take place over years, decades, and longer.

Climate disruptions have some people worried about their health, their children, their homes, their livelihoods, their communities, and even their personal safety. They wonder about the future of the natural areas they enjoy and the wild animals and plants that live there. In addition, there are growing concerns about our national security and how climate change might affect scarce resources around the planet and increase global tensions.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “Sharply Reduce Carbon Emissions”
We can no longer rely on piecemeal, voluntary efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The only way to protect ourselves and the planet is to tackle climate change at its source by taking coordinated, aggressive action to reduce the CO2 we put into the atmosphere—enforced by strict laws and regulations, and supported by significant investment. If we don’t make averting further climate change our top priority, warming of the land and oceans will accelerate, increasing the frequency of droughts, fires, floods, and other extreme weather events, and damaging the environment for generations to come.

Option Two: “Prepare and Protect Our Communities”
Preparing for and coping with changing conditions must be our top priority. We should work together now to secure our communities and strengthen our resilience in the face of climate-related impacts. That includes protecting our infrastructure—roads, bridges, and shorelines—and ensuring that the most vulnerable members of society have the support they need to adapt to the effects of a warming planet.

Option Three: “Accelerate Innovation”
Across the country and around the world, many private enterprises are already responding to climate change by seeing opportunity. Agricultural biotech companies Monsanto and Syngenta, for example, are poised to profit from newly patented drought-resistant crops. The water giant Veolia, which manages pipes and builds desalination plants, has expanded its operations to 74 countries on five continents. Lucid Energy, a startup in Portland, Oregon, generates electric power from the city’s domestic water pipes.

NIF-Logo2014About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/climate-choices

Retrofitting Homes for Energy Efficiency in Portland

This four-page case study (2014) from The Intersector Project outlines how Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability used cross-sector collaboration to address the need to retrofit homes for increased energy efficiency.

From the Intersector Project

An estimated 40 percent of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States comes from energy used in homes. In Portland, Oregon, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability wanted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city while bettering the economic and social development of local residents and businesses. In 2009, stakeholders came together to draft a plan designed to provide energy upgrades to 500 Portland homes and cut energy consumption by 10 to 30 percent using an innovating financing model to eliminate the upfront costs that deterred homeowners from pursuing environmentally-friendly energy retrofits. Led by Derek Smith, a sustainability expert with a record of working in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, collaborators came together to create Clean Energy Works Portland (CEWP), an innovative program that used a revolving loan to finance upgrades, working with local contractors to add high-quality jobs to the economy which resulted in a reduction of twenty percent or greater energy consumption in most participating homes.

IP_Portland

“Cross-sector collaborations are the most practical and effective way to make progress in this era of massive resource constraints and necessary economic realignment.”— Derek Smith, CEO, Clean Energy Works Oregon

This case study, authored by The Intersector Project, tells the story of this initiative.

More about The Intersector ProjectThe Intersector Project
The Intersector Project is a New York-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to empower practitioners in the government, business, and non-profit sectors to collaborate to solve problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. We provide free, publicly available resources for practitioners from every sector to implement collaborative solutions to complex problems. We take forward several years of research in collaborative governance done at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School and expand on that research to create practical, accessible resources for practitioners.

Follow on Twitter @theintersector.

Resource Link: http://intersector.com/case/cewp_oregon/ (Download the case study PDF here.)

This resource was submitted by Neil Britto, the Executive Director at The Intersector Project via the Add-a-Resource form.

Reducing the Risks of Catastrophic Wildfires in Flagstaff

This four-page case study (2014) from The Intersector Project outlines how a cross-sector collaboration partnership created the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP) to reduce the risks of wildfires in Flagstaff, Arizona.

From the Intersector Project

Years of extensive wildland fire suppression in the Southwest has left many forests with unnaturally high levels of forest fuels, like dense undergrowth and thick litter fall. This has changed the natural fire ecology from low, fast-burning wildfires, to much larger crown fires that kill trees and undermine landscape integrity. In 2010, a wildfire and subsequent flooding on the east side of the San Francisco Peaks, just north of Flagstaff, Arizona, caused over $150 million in combined suppression and recovery. A similar wildfire in either of the two Flagstaff watersheds could potentially flood much of downtown and/or disrupt 50 percent of the city’s water supply, resulting in significant long-term financial and life-style impacts within the community. Recognizing the need for preventative action, a partnership between the city, county, state, and federal governments, with support from local non-profit and for-profit organizations, has resulted in the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP). With Flagstaff Wildland Fire Management Officer Paul Summerfelt coordinating FWPP activities, FWPP plans to mitigate the risk of potentially devastating wildfires in Flagstaff’s critical watershed areas by managing forest fuels and restoring natural ecosystem functions. This will include thinning out dense forests and reintroducing a low-intensity fire regime. To fund FWPP, Flagstaff passed a $10 million municipal bond with 74 percent approval rate, making FWPP the only forest restoration work on National Forests funded through municipal bonds.

IP_Flagstaff

“The strength of a management group is much better when it’s not just a single agency. When you get different people involved, they see things differently and everybody brings something into the collaborative process… If you want to go fast go by yourself, but if you want to make a difference, go with others.”— Paul Summerfelt, Flagstaff Fire Department’s Wildland Fire Management Officer

This case study, authored by The Intersector Project, tells the story of this initiative.

More about The Intersector ProjectThe Intersector Project
The Intersector Project is a New York-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to empower practitioners in the government, business, and non-profit sectors to collaborate to solve problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. We provide free, publicly available resources for practitioners from every sector to implement collaborative solutions to complex problems. We take forward several years of research in collaborative governance done at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School and expand on that research to create practical, accessible resources for practitioners.

Follow on Twitter @theintersector.

Resource Link: http://intersector.com/case/flagstafffire_arizona/ (Download the case study here.)

This resource was submitted by Neil Britto, the Executive Director at The Intersector Project via the Add-a-Resource form.

Reforestation of Parks in Seattle

This four-page case study (2014) from The Intersector Project outlines how the City of Seattle used cross-sector collaboration to establish the Green Seattle Partnership to  help reforest the city parks in Seattle, Washington.

From the Intersector Project

In 1994 the City of Seattle and the Parks Department began to notice something wrong with trees in city parks. Research found that Seattle’s 2,500 acres of forested city parks were at risk from invasive plants such as English Ivy, Himalayan blackberry and bindweed. In 2004, experts projected that within 20 years about 70 percent of Seattle’s forested parkland trees would be dead. Previously, park-goers removed invasive species on their own, while non-profit and government organizations likewise worked independently. Rather than helping the problem, however, these piecemeal efforts placed an undue strain on the city’s existing resources. In order to save the parks, a shared effort between community members, experts in forestry, and the departments that held park resources was necessary. In 2004, the Green Seattle Partnership was formed, with the aim of arming citizens to help the city’s trees in partnership with the Department of Parks, Public Utilities and the Office of Sustainability and Environment. Under the leadership of Mark Mead, Senior Urban Forester, the Partnership created a 20-year strategic plan to sustain Seattle’s forested parks. Green Seattle Partnership is now the largest urban forest restoration project in the country. Mark’s use of agents across all sectors connected to the issue, and mobilizing community members to volunteer 500,000 hours by 2013 to the reforestation program, have put the Green Seattle Partnership in place to achieve their goal of planting 500,000 new trees by 2025.

IP_Seattle

“What really energized me and brought me into the fold of doing this work was in the very early days…working with the community members, seeing their enthusiasm, their drive, and their commitment to making their community a better place.”– Mark Mead, Senior Urban Forester

This case study, authored by The Intersector Project, tells the story of this initiative.

More about The Intersector ProjectThe Intersector Project
The Intersector Project is a New York-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to empower practitioners in the government, business, and non-profit sectors to collaborate to solve problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. We provide free, publicly available resources for practitioners from every sector to implement collaborative solutions to complex problems. We take forward several years of research in collaborative governance done at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School and expand on that research to create practical, accessible resources for practitioners.

Follow on Twitter @theintersector.

Resource Link: http://intersector.com/case/greenseattle_washington/ (Download the case study here.)

This resource was submitted by Neil Britto, the Executive Director at The Intersector Project via the Add-a-Resource form.

Rethinking Complexity Blog

We live in a time of growing complexity, a time that calls for new thinking, new conversations, new ways of working together and new forms of organization that support continuous learning and innovation. Finding new ways to work within and across organizations and communities is critical to address current needs for climate change, resource use, social innovation and social justice.

Rethinking Complexity is a forum to explore these issues, examine best practices, and share critical research at the cutting edge of how organizations behave, systems change, and complexity can be managed for the good of humanity.

Rethinking Complexity BlogProduced by the Organizational Systems program of Saybrook University, Rethinking Complexity holds a system must be sustainable and support the human potential of the people it touches before it can be considered effective.

About Saybrook University
Saybrook University is the world’s premier institution for humanistic studies. It is a rigorous and unique learner-centered educational institution offering advanced degrees in psychology, mind-body medicine, organizational systems, and human science. Saybrook’s programs are deeply rooted in the humanistic tradition and a commitment to help students develop as whole people – mind, body, and spirit – in order to achieve their full potential. Experiential learning and professional training are integral components of the transformative education offered through Saybrook’s programs.

Our global community of scholars and practitioners is dedicated to advancing human potential to create a humane and sustainable world. We accomplish this by providing our students with the skills to achieve and make a difference, empowering them to pursue their passions and their life’s work. Our scholars and practitioners are creative, compassionate innovators pursuing new ways of thinking and doing for their professions, organizations, and communities.

Follow on Twitter: @SaybrookU.

Resource Link: www.saybrook.edu/rethinkingcomplexity/

This resource was submitted by Marty Jacobs, a student at Saybrook University, via the Add-a-Resource form.

From Dialogue to Action: Climate Dialogues and Climate Action Labs

This 2008 article by Phil Mitchell shows how a global issue like climate change can be handled gracefully at the local level with little funds by working in collaboration with the existing infrastructure provided by local environmental organizations. (Vol 2 Issue 2 of the International Journal of Public Participation, December 2008)

Abstract:
The Greater Seattle Climate Dialogues is a climate change education and advocacy project with its roots in dialogue and deliberation. Using an adapted study circles model, the purpose of its Climate Action Labs is to change grassroots politics in such a way that people can bridge the ubiquitous gap between dialogue and action. In overview form, this is the story of the project, intended to share the thinking that motivated it and the activities, design principles, and actual process designs that shaped its implementation and outcomes. The story is not complete without articulating lessons learned to date, and these are shared to benefit others, as is the major political challenge we believe we all face. For others’ projects based in similar motivation, the design principles and lessons learned may be a useful, transportable resource.

Excerpt from the introduction:
Practitioners of dialogue and deliberation (D&D) are keenly interested in two of the facets of public participation that remain underexplored: action and scale (Levine, Fung, & Gastil, 2005). We need action, especially in the many situations where our motivation for applying D&D techniques is to solve real world problems that require action outcomes, often political ones. Too often, however, in otherwise excellent deliberative processes, the links between talk and action are tenuous. Secondly, we need scale, because while most applications of D&D techniques have been on a local scale, it is clear that many larger, even global scale challenges could benefit from such approaches. Climate change is a perfect example.

Climate change—that is, the human-caused disruption of the Earth’s climate system—is arguably the most pressing global challenge society faces (CNA, 2007; Stern, 2005). Yet despite a broad scientific consensus on the facts, the very existence of the problem remains bitterly contested in the public sphere. The use of obfuscation and uncertainty as a political tactic cries out to be addressed by the wisdom inherent in D&D approaches.

Some attempts have been made to do so, as for example, the Empowerment Institute’s Global Warming Cafe (World Cafe), the Northwest Earth Institute’s Changing Course (discussion circle), the National Conversation on Climate Action (21st Century town hall), Deliberative Democracy and Climate Change (World Cafe, then next steps forthcoming), and the Greater Seattle Climate Dialogues and Action Labs (study circles/hybrid/experimental).

The Climate Dialogues/Labs are the subject of this report. The Greater Seattle Climate Dialogues is a climate change education and advocacy project with its roots in dialogue and deliberation. From its inception, we attempted to bridge the gap between dialogue and action. The Climate Action Labs model is our response to challenges we found in using study circles to support participant action. Here, I offer an overview of the programs: how we prepared for launch, how we approached design, what happened in terms of implementation and outcomes, and finally, the lessons we have learned to date.

The question at the center of Climate Dialogues was, How can we build a mandate for strong global warming policy when there is no public consensus and when public discussion is frozen into camps and undermined by disinformation? Our answer: (a) Start with well-designed dialogue; (b) take people through a learning and community-building process that gets past the obfuscations; and (c) use that as a launching point for collective political action. Our premise was that if we could create an opening for the public to actually hear and understand what the scientists are telling us, that members of the public would be moved to act.

Resource Link: www.ncdd.org/rc/wp-content/uploads/Mitchell-ClimateDialoguesToAction.pdf (free download)