Being Comfortable with Uncertainty

This week’s blog posting is centered around our group’s goals, achievements, project proposal and moment of significance. Since our inaugural post, we have experienced a lot of moments as a team – some good, some bad, and some with uncertainty. Learning how to face these developments has arguably made us more cohesive, and allowed us to connect with the idea that uncertainty can be a productive force within a team. The process of creating our project proposal yielded our moment of significance, and created momentum to create concrete goals for future accomplishments.

Moment of Significance:

Let’s begin by asking: what is a moment of significance? It is the moment which, can be identified as a group, and deemed significant comparative to all experiences within the term. Determining this individually, and later sharing this specific moment with one another, is important because it helps us realize how incidences (for example, meetings or assignments) impact one another. It also allows us to celebrate moments of clarity – whether they are emotionally positive or negative realizations- this is an act of learning that can instigate cohesion with one another. When we discussed this question together, we all agreed that creating the project proposal draft was our moment of significance.

The procedure of “breaking down” the proposal draft revealed itself to be very helpful. Initially we faced a sense of uncertainty at the beginning of our project, due to the discrepancy between what the LFS course website outlined as being the project and what the project evolved into. However, meeting together and discussing each section (e.g.significance, context, background, methodology) allowed us to synthesize a tangible plan and recognize which area each group member had a valuable contribution. It also helped us determine what our next chronological courses of action were, which provided us a sense of momentum and coherence as a group. The next section below may demonstrate how our goals and achievements as a group evolved throughout this process.

Weekly Objectives

Week 1:

  • Share interpretation of project with each other 
  • Identify roles of members for project contribution
  • Figure out an effective method of communication

Achievements: The first thing we did as a group was discuss our interpretations of the project, and then communicate our strengths, weaknesses and preferences as individuals. Next, we determined what the best method of communication was – we created a Facebook group that only our team members had access to. We also agreed the method of communication on that platform- relying on the group page as a “forum” for specific questions or actions, and using the messenger app as a tool prior to meeting in person. Lastly, we created a GoogleDrive for files that we would work on together as a group.

Week 2:

  • Meet with community liaison to discuss community needs and project format
  • Create and clarify the intended product for delivery

Achievements: Meeting with our liaison Joanne was exciting. We quickly learned why so many initiatives had been achieved by Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, because community members such as Joanne brought amazing energy and vision to the forefront of projects.  Meeting with community volunteers and Joanne demonstrated what Mathie and Cunningham (2003) describe as Asset Based Community Development (ABCD): the mobilisation and identification of existing community assets which enables positive change (p.477). Indeed, this highlighted the benefits of improving the inclusiveness and diversity of our food systems science curricula (Galt et al., 2012, p.10), by introducing us to alternative views and personalities.

This was also our introduction to uncertainty, as we soon realized the proposed project on the LFS 350 website did not resemble the needs of the partner. Nonetheless, we worked together to determine that some potential delivered products would include: a contact sheet, application form, information handout, online and in person surveys, community engagement, and an infographic. Hopefully, our work with Little Mountain Neighbourhood House will be a useful tool for for future change, or   a “reference point for further community action” (Mathie & Cunningam, 2003, p.478). Lastly, we concluded our experiences and week by creating our first blog post which introduced our group. 

Week 3:

  • Create Project Proposal Draft
  • Clarify what we could do as a group
  • Creating a draft of the information sheet and application sheet
  • Clarify responsibilities and discuss group concerns with Carrie

Achievements: We addressed our sense of uncertainty this week by engaging with the proposal draft. As discussed above in the “moment of significance” section, it helped us synthesize goals and contextualize our project within the LFS course and Little Mountain Neighbourhood House. In achieving this, and reviewing our proposed products for delivery, we initially felt a sense of intimidation our time scale and desire to maintain quality. We agreed as a group that what needed to be done next was put these goals into a schedule, and discuss our concerns with our TA Carrie. We had also completed the information sheet and application sheet which was to be sent off before the next meeting with Joanne.

As we faced many opportunities to engage with the project, we understood what Will Valley described as “uncertainty”. What actions should we focus on achieving? Which roles best fit our overall goals as a group? How do we achieve balance as both students and professionals working on a project? We decided to clarify and discuss our role and responsibilities with our TA Carrie, who helped us understand how to fit our goals into an appropriate time frame. After meeting the following week as a group, it was clear that we felt a collective sense of relief and excitement to continue onwards.

Week 4:

  • Receive feedback on proposal draft

Achievements: This week we completed and received feedback on our proposal draft. Will had gone over all of his comments and suggestions to improve our proposal. He had also taken the time to help us narrow down exactly what we could do for the Riley Park project. This helped us further define what we as a group could do for Joanne and the project. Taking in Will’s considerations, we finished up our final draft of the proposal to hand in. Which can be found here

Week 5:

  • Create an Action Plan

Achievements: In an effort to synthesize our connection to the project in a concrete manner, we created an Action Plan. We decided that creating a schedule would be a useful method to organize our future decisions. Our completed Action Plan could now also be used as a reference point to our continued progress. Additionally, by creating this schedule in document form, we would be able to share it with our community liaison and provide them with a snapshot of our aggregated responsibilities as partners in the project and students within the LFS 350 course.

Week 6:

  • Meet with community partner again, meet as group to discuss.
  • Create Blog post 2.
  • Create script for in-person survey
  • Edit application sheet and information sheet.
  • Start compiling contact list

Achievements:

We met with Joanne again, providing her with our proposal this meeting. We also met with Web, who was in charge of the Riley Park garden website. Through Web’s help, we gained access to a GoogleDrive that members of the Little Mountain Neighbourhood House also had access to, streamlining the method of communication and file sharing.

Meeting with Joanne this week helped us immensely with clarifying what our objectives were for this project. We were able to show Joanne what we had worked on so far (in terms of the application form and information sheet), and she gave us feedback exactly what she liked and did not like about the forms. We will be editing these sheets as per her request.

We also began to compile a contact list for potential community partners that will be interested in hosting workshops at the field house. We were met with a second uncertainty through the week, we had previously thought we were building off of an existing contact list from the previous group, but this list was unfortunately, not located. Instead, a new contact list will be compiled and we will attempt to reach out to each contact to ask about their interest in the project.

Upcoming Objectives and Strategies:

Our upcoming objectives involve compiling and recruiting the potential partners to lead the workshops at the Field House. We will be researching the local area for organizations, businesses, and individuals who may be interested in leading workshops. We will then be reaching out to each of these contacts, to let them know about the field house, and to see if they are interested in participating. We will also try and actively recruit potential partners at the farmer’s market on March 11th, by handing out information sheets and hopefully generating interest about what the field house is seeking. If we find that the contacts or the people we try to recruit are not interested, we will be asking them to complete a survey to ask for their reason why they do not want to participate, in order to improve future chances of recruitment. Once this is done, we will be meeting as a group to assess the results and perhaps even provide some points of improvement for our Community Partner to work on in the future.

Conclusion:

The LFS course series has continued to show us how many experiences can be packed into a term! Whether these moments are good, challenging or significant they continue to shape how we interact with the food system curriculum that surrounds us – in the classroom, in our cities, in our personal lives. Tune in next week for Blog Post 3 – Strategies for a Graceful Dismount.

References

       Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based     Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice, 13(5), 474–486.

       Galt, R., Clark, S., & Parr, D. (2012). Engaging Values in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Education: Toward an Explicitly Values-Based Pedagogical Approach. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 43–54.