Arrivederci!

We have finally made it through our final weeks as a part of UBC LFS 350 Winter Term 2 Class and what a journey it has been! We’d like to share some of our thoughts as we reach the end of the project, as well as a summary of our final report. Enjoy, and thanks for following along!

Executive Summary

With this project our aim was to form a better idea of where and how community kitchens operate in Vancouver and more specifically in the assigned neighbourhoods of Shaughnessy and South Cambie. This information enables the City to better support the facilities, with the end goal of improving food security, specifically accessibility and utilization.

The objective of our specific study is to develop an asset inventory of the community kitchens operating within the Shaughnessy/South Cambie neighborhoods. The study is focused on three primary research questions:

  • What community kitchens exist in the Shaughnessy/South Cambie areas?
  • What assets, programs and operations do these kitchens have?
  • How can we use the assets to address food security issues in these neighbourhoods, particularly accessibility and utilization of the kitchens?

Answering these questions is essential to establishing how these kitchens positively affect their communities; whether it is by gathering the community to help others, having potluck dinners, or celebrating cultures and food.

The methods used in this study involved finding partners in the area primarily through online research. Partners were visited to conduct a standardized survey that included direct observation of the kitchen and information on the use of kitchen from a knowledgeable person.

Having only successfully surveyed two community kitchens, it is hard to draw conclusive results from our study. However, some highlight results are as follows:

  • The Shaughnessy/South Cambie neighbourhoods contain few kitchen facilities for use by the community
  • Those present tend to be part of a larger religious organization, such as a church or synagogue
  • The kitchens are well equipped, containing most if not all of the equipment and facilities mentioned in the survey
  • Use of the kitchens is available to people in the organization who will follow certain guidelines provided by the kitchen, or in cases available to the general public for a rental fee
  • Kitchens are used to bring the communities of these organizations together, often celebrating holidays or special occasions, and as a means of valuing the community culture

Based on these results, we recommend continued research into the kitchen facilities of the Shaughnessy/South Cambie neighbourhoods in order to gain a fuller understanding of available kitchens. These kitchens would also benefit from assigned staff that could develop more programs for the kitchens, both within the organization’s community and possibly including the greater neighbourhood community.

 

Reflections:

“What”

We definitely had many ups and downs throughout this term, but we survived through it! We started off with our initial goal of reaching out to 5-6 different community kitchens in our area of Shaugnessy and South Cambie, while we only ended up in contacting 2 different places we still feel as if we were able to complete our goal and are happy with our results. The most significant difficulty we faced was finding kitchens in the area. Without any found kitchens, we wouldn’t be able to start our project. After spending most of the semester failing to find kitchens, even small steps such as finding places and getting to talk to them over the phone were big achievements to us. In early March, we decided to shift strategies and use one of our Flexible Learning days to actually go out and visit kitchens rather than keep attempting contact by phone and email. This was a big change for us, and proved to be very important.

“So What?”

By going in person rather than email, we took advantage of face-to-face communication, which allowed us to introduce ourselves as UBC students and explain why we had come by. This made for a better connection between ourselves and our partners. We also found that changing the wording from “community kitchen” to just “kitchen facility” made a big difference. Both of the locations we surveyed didn’t identify themselves as “community kitchens” because they aren’t open to the public. However, we were glad when they welcomely took us to their kitchen and explained all they knew. We simply told them we were interested in learning about how the kitchen is used for an upcoming research paper.  The word “paper” made them more willing to help. As our procedure went smoothly after, we realized the power of words. We were able to make them feel more comfortable and more willing to share information once “community” was taken out. Communicating face-to-face made it easier for us to collect data, as we were given better chance at securing an interview on site in person.

“Now What?”

Changing our method of approaching potential community partners was an important step for our group. It allowed us to move forward in our project when we hit a roadblock of having no responses from any kitchens. We started our project being very positive and hopeful, expecting everything to go smoothly. We did not think we would have to change our approach so drastically. Reaching out to the teaching team helped us find a better method of approaching these community kitchens. Once we changed our method of data collection from sending out emails to physically going to some facilities in South Cambie and Shaughnessy, we started getting motivated as we got positive outcomes. Dropping by some community facilities allowed us to finally get responses and data to contribute to our project. Framing our approach to something more casual was an important change for our group. It allowed those who welcomed us at their facility to be more open and understanding – letting us in on insider information and happily participating in the survey.

Our final stage involved effectively wrapping up our written report by using strategies we learnt in class and following along guides Harper Adam’s University in the UK, which we found had great tips/tricks to writing a concise and informative, yet engaging enough for public eyes !

Challenges with this project taught us the importance of being able to quickly shift gears and adapt our approaches to generate a more possible outcome. By having to do this project, we were able to learn an exponential amount on the importance of patience and active listening, especially during the breakout session when other groups were sharing their experiences with us. As a closing word, although we had some rough patches, our group had a great time working on this project together. Getting together and going to the kitchens brought us closer as a group. We would like to thank the teaching team of LFS 350 for all their support and constant motivation and helping us see the light at the end of the tunnel when it seemed impossible. We would also like to express our gratitude to our community partners who agreed to participate in our study.

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Changing Times

Time has been flying by way too fast! Only a few more weeks till we reach final presentations, in other words – it’s crunch time!

Weekly Objectives:

  1. Contact More Kitchens! This week we’d like to contact the few remaining kitchens on our list that we haven’t yet contacted. We’ve been contacting kitchens by email and phone calls when possible, depending on what information we have. 
  2. New strategies on contacting and visiting kitchens in our assigned area. For the kitchens we have already contacted, we are coming up with new ways of making contact again to hopefully increase our success rate. This will include more phone calls, and using next week’s flexible learning day to actually knock on doors in the Shaughnessy/South Cambie areas. The idea is to expand our reach so we know we have done thorough research and contact attempts. Our other goal is to successfully find a community partner and have a kitchen agree to let us visit and do the survey.

Weekly Achievements:

We have an organization spreadsheet containing a fairly extensive list of all the contacts in our specified areas. These are mainly religious organizations, many of which have some sort of meal servings or kitchens (which have been mentioned on their website). Last week during the flexible learning time we sat down as a group and called or emailed almost every contact in this list. While the feeling of finally stepping into the ‘real world’ and contacting community member was satisfying, the responses were not as great.

As a group we continue to strive in communicate and work well together, which we believe is our biggest achievement in itself!

Moments of Change Workshop Reflection:

For our group, this workshop in tutorial was an awesome strategy for reflecting on the project so far and figuring out where we stand. It was nice to see all of our group members went up and down with the same moments and we actually had very similar feelings throughout our time together so far .

It was helpful to think about moments in the project so far, and find out that we often feel the same way about things that have happened. This definitely helps us feel better about the work we have already done, and also helps us to look forward to the rest of the project that is coming up. We hope that our success in contacting community kitchens will improve in the (very near) future so that we have data to look at and we can draw interesting conclusions in our final report. 

Picture1

We wanted to emphasize how much last weeks lecture really helped us put everything into perspective,  get us back on track and keep trying to push through our final weeks with the project. With any goal, when you don’t see an outcome right away it causes a lot of let down and that’s just how we had been feeling after trying to contact kitchens and being denied – thus causing us to have a little scare on what to do next! A quote emphasized through lecture we also thought would be awesome to share: “Without a certain amount of anxiety and risk, there’s a limit to how much learning occurs” (Shulman, 2005, p. 18). With each one of us in the group we automatically thought of different experiences we’ve been in or had where we’ve had certain anxieties or certain boundaries we’d have to jump across to get to where we need. A simple example we’ve all personally gone through – putting yourself out there for the world to see! Whether it’s making new friends in class, or (in connection to our project) taking the time to walk out into the community and represent who we are – UBC LFS students! Even having a few of our group members talking to community partners was nerve-wracking as it was like we were entering this new territory !

The Graceful Dismount

Our group’s final strategy for successful project completion:

  1. Showing up in person and refraining from using “community kitchens” as it has been a point of confusion for churches that we have contacted. We have contacted around 10 different community kitchens via phone or email. However, we have not had anyone willing to let us survey them. We have gotten a couple of responses from churches saying that they are not “community kitchens” and have turned us down. We think we will have much better results if we follow Sam’s advice and go to the places in person and explain that we are conducting surveys on public spaces with kitchen facilities. Since this coming class is a flexible learning day, our group plans to go to our neighbourhood and visit some churches and community centres in person in hopes of getting kitchen representatives to fill out our surveys. 
  2. We will make sure that all group members are continuously updated with anything that goes on. We already have a Facebook page where we can have constant mobile-friendly updates and open communication about the project – thanks to Facebook, keeping in contact has definitely been the least of our worries! Our page will help us keep track of what community kitchens we have contacted and what other ones we still need to contact. By keeping everyone updated online, we are not wasting time to go over things when we meet in person. 
  3. We plan to visit the kitchens as soon as possible. Once we survey a kitchen, we will start a Google document so we can write down important information that we potentially want to share. Over time, as we visit more community kitchens we will be able to easily distinguish similarities and differences within the kitchens and conclude any fitting trends. This will be of most help when we start to write out final report.

 

 

References:

Shulman, L. S. (2005). Pedagogies of uncertainty. Liberal Education, 91(2), 18–25.

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Updates !

We’re back! And what a few weeks it has been!

Our Achievements So Far:

Since our last blog posting we have completed our primary objective of completing the proposal report; it seemed a little tougher than we initially thought and took quite some time, but we made it through! We have attached our proposal for the public to view.

We have also completed the TCPS 2 Tutorial: Course on Research Ethics (CORE) and our certificates are attached in the proposal.

Our Weekly Objectives:

  1. Create a list of private community kitchens

We will do this by browsing on Google and Google Maps – contacting schools, churches, and community centers for information regarding private community kitchens to see if they have a publicly available kitchen themselves. Over the reading break, every group member will try and find two community kitchens in Shaughnessy and South Cambie. We will keep in contact via Facebook and record any community kitchens we find on a Google Sheets to avoid duplicates. We plan to have this done by Feb 21st.

  1. Contact kitchens

As soon as we get the go ahead from Sam (our TA), we will start contacting community kitchens. From our list of possible community kitchens, we will have to find their contact information and either send an email, call, or stop by in person to see if they would be willing to participate in our survey. From there, we can set up a meeting time where we would be able to visit their kitchen.

Upcoming Objectives and Strategies:

1. Visiting the kitchens

Once we arrange a meeting time, we will arrive as a group to the kitchen where we will be able to talk to whomever manages the kitchen, and fill out the survey. We will be prepared by being familiar with the survey so we know what things we need to be looking for and what we need to ask. We will also make sure we have a fully charged camera, if they allow us to take some pictures.

2. Presenting ourselves in a professional manner

We will accomplish this by arriving on time to our meetings, appropriately dressed and very familiar with the survey questions we will be asking. We will also review the TCPS2 guidelines to make sure we follow ethical protocol.

3.Record information about each kitchen visit

After each community kitchen we visit, we plan to record all of the data collected. We will do this by putting it into a google doc where the data can then be organized into categories so trends between other kitchens in the future can easily be identified.

4.Reflect on our kitchen visits and find common themes

After visiting all of our kitchens, we will then hold a group meeting where we will reflect and discuss some commonalities and differences between the kitchens. We will also touch on what was working well for the kitchens and areas where we feel need some, if any improvements. Analyzing our data will help us make further conclusions on trends in the area and community kitchens in general and their effects. We hope to have all our visits completed by March 20th – marking the start on our final report and presentation.

Reflections

It is hard to point to one particular moment of significance that has occurred in our project so far. However, one that definitely does stand out is receiving the marking for our proposal. After working on it for two weeks and meeting with Sam in class before editing, we thought we had put together a well rounded proposal that both explained our project and met the assignment requirements. We took Sam’s suggestions into careful account as we edited and improved the proposal. Faced with the 1000 word limit – it was hard to fit all the details that we wanted to share, but with cautious use of words and efforts to avoid redundancy, we filled out all of the parts in the assignment outline. This week, we were surprised when we got our mark back and it was not as positive as we had expected.

Getting an undesired or unexpected outcome to any project is never a very fun experience whom all of us have gone through. After having put a lot of time into this proposal, making edits as suggested, along with a rather positive and motivating meeting with Sam, we were frustrated with this end result. However, we are determined to turn this moment into a beneficial experience as we move forward with our project!

Re-connecting back to what we had done is last weeks tutorial: working on a ‘pre-mortem’ and how we discussed over the podcast “Failure Is Your Friend”. Our first step, of course, is to accept that it was okay! In the podcast they mention over and over again how there is a stigma behind failure – which is most likely the reasoning to our initial reactions, however failure should instead be considered as growth.

Starting to regroup, taking these pointers into account and despite not having the opportunity to be remarked, we are now currently working on editing our proposal to make a final draft that will be visible to the general public. Carefully taking into account what we’ve learned so far, incorporating Sam’s feedback in order to strengthen our existing draft and come out with a new and improved proposal! Though time consuming it is not only important to us, but also showed us a valuable lesson on taking what we learned in class (about failure) and keeping it in mind to help better ourselves for the remainder of this project! We want this proposal to be an excellent representation of our project and inspire confidence in our work for anyone who reads it, particularly Shaughnessy and South Cambie community members.

Moving forward with other assignments; this moment has shown us that we need to follow assignment instructions more closely, ask questions, carefully consider each point that we write and continue to work and grow together as a team! Looking back on our required readings in the article ‘Performing a Project Premortem’ Klein states how it is important to pick up on early signs of trouble versus any painful postmortems and we think our proposal was just the glimpse of small failure we needed to get us back on track! 

Overall, it has been a constructive experience and we look forward to writing the remaining assignments with better understanding of marking criteria.

References: 

Klein, G. (2007). Performing a Project Premortem. Retrieved March 12, 2016, from https://hbr.org/2007/09/performing-a-project-premortem

Freakonomics. (2015, May 20). Failure Is Your Friend: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast – Freakonomics. Retrieved March 12, 2016, from http://freakonomics.com/podcast/failure-is-your-friend-a-freakonomics-radio-rebroadcast/

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Our Beginning

Hello and Welcome!

Have you ever wondered what a community kitchen really does? Did you ever stop to think they do more than just giving out free soup?

In the next few weeks, follow our blog as we take steps to learn in depth about the benefits community kitchens provide to their communities – aside from just making those large pots of soup! We are with UBC’s LFS 350 class, group one, consisting of five members: Nilab Salehi, Celine Koppenaal, Felicia Yuwono, Sheyda Mirth and Jeanne Currie. LFS 350 is the second part of the Land, Food, and Community series. The class looks at the food system within communities located in Vancouver and analyzes various aspects of what sustainability means in those systems. The class is experiential-learning based, which means each student will be part of a group working on a community project in Vancouver. In our particular project, we will be working with different community kitchens in both Shaughnessy and South Cambie areas in the city of Vancouver to discover their advantages to our communities. Not only will we be gaining knowledge for ourselves, but will also help the city of Vancouver by providing certain information about these unknown locations! We’re excited to get started on working within the community to see how we can make an impact and finding real world applications to the themes we have explored in class as LFS students!

Goals

Our goal for this project is to contribute to the City of Vancouver’s knowledge on community kitchens operating in the Shaughnessy and South Cambie neighbourhoods. This enables the city to allocate resources and better support the kitchens. In order to accomplish this goal, we have an objective of finding 6 community kitchens to survey and observe. By doing this we will be able to identify barriers or opportunities to improve the use of the kitchen facilities. 

Though we did not originally choose this project and were initially discouraged, further discussion both in class and as a team during the past week has helped us gain larger insight and we are now starting to look forward to this project with fresh eyes as it evidently aligns with our group’s interests; we all share the passion of gaining new knowledge from our surroundings and then passing this on to the people around us (not to mention, also helping us gain a new experiences working with community stakeholders as this is a new field for all of us!) 

All of us enjoy cooking and working with food, so getting to talk to larger kitchens and people who share that interest will help us better connect with the community partner. We are curious to see how these kitchens have an impact on the food security of the community as a whole and other ways they benefit our cities and the public. By collaborating with the community through our project we wish to gain a deeper understanding of both direct and indirect connections between food, the environment and community we live in. In this project, we will have the chance to hear stories of various members who have been active in their community kitchens. This is an great opportunity to hear new perspectives and learn more about community involvement and people in Vancouver.

First impressions

Although we have tried many different strategies in the search for community kitchens, we are still having trouble locating kitchens in our selected area. We have looked on the BC211 website, community billboards, google, other search engines and even looked up several churches. Our main goal, for now, is to instead start off contacting the churches and schools in the neighbourhood to find out if they operate kitchens or know of any in the area.

Being this early in the project, we are curious to see how talking to community groups will play out; we aren’t sure how people will react to talking to us, their willingness to let in strangers looking for information and what information  they may provide us with, since we haven’t actually talked with any potential partners yet. We have a lot to find out about what exactly a community kitchen is, what they do, how they work within the community and its benefits!

Before we survey any community kitchens, we need  to be sure we are asking the right questions and actively listening to anyone we talk to. Both the ABCD strategy (Calabash Trust, 2014) and TED talk (Steel, 2009) which were covered in class put emphasis on asking questions and active listening, instead of downplaying or underestimating our community partners’ routines and ways of operating. We want to find out what improvements they would like to see in the future for their community kitchens and learn the reasoning behind it. It is important for everyone to have a positive experience working with UBC students. We look forward to collaborating with the community and the City of Vancouver to help better support these kitchens. We are excited to see how far we get in the next few weeks!

References:

Calabash Trust (2014).  Asset Based Community-led Development [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_muFMCLebZ4

Steel, C. (2009). Carolyn Steel: How food shapes our cities: TED TALKS [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4GutLm8DAo

 

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