Farewell

Final thoughts and reflections

Around three months ago, we were in the midst of choosing our community project out of a list of twenty or more. Now that we look back, it is clear for us to see how far we’ve come both individually and as a cohesive unit. There is no doubt that this incredible learning opportunity had it’s fair share of ups and downs followed by many moments of significance. For the purpose of this blog post, we will fully dive into one of the significant moments that we encountered throughout this journey.

What?

As you might recall, our group was assigned to document the inclusion process of the Sustenance Festival. Our end goal was to create a video piece that would be of effective use to our community partners – the Vancouver Parks Board (VPB). We also hoped that this video would be of value to other organizations that were involved in similar initiatives.

To achieve this, we carried out multiple interviews with the key holders of Sustenance Festival to gain context and content for the video we were about to make. This process began around mid-October and came to an end around the beginning of November.

We found our moment of significance during the process of actually making the video. After conducting six interviews, we were left with hours and hours of video footage and audio clips that had to be analyzed. We had make sure to gather and assemble our raw data into a coherent narrative. Our community partners expected the video to tell a story of Sustenance Festival. A story that would cover everything from what the festival is about to success and challenges that the team faced while they were in the midst of this process. This was around the time when we felt like we were being thrown in at the deep end, not knowing where to start.

The most intimidating part prior to the video making was thinking about how we could pack all relevant bits and pieces into 8-minutes. We were convinced that the most challenging part of this process would be to pick out important information from the hours of interview footage that we had. We also agreed that every single one of the interviewees had valuable insight that would add to the story telling. An unexpected challenge came in the form of a technical issue with the interview footage. Some interviews had terrible lighting and audio which unfortunately really affected the quality of the overall presentation.

With all these problems at hand, we had to come together as a group to generate ideas and creative strategies to overcome these challenges.

So what?

During our third flexible learning week, we had a meeting at the Vancouver Parks Board with Rebecca who wanted to check in with us to see how the entire process was going. We told her that we hadn’t yet discussed as a group about how we’d like to begin the process and that we were open to brainstorming some ideas with her. We talked about the structure of the video and how we’d want it to flow into an actual story. After going back and forth with a couple different ideas, we decided to use the ‘What? So what? Now what?’ structure that we were all too familiar with.

This allowed us to break the video into three parts:

  1. What is Sustenance Festival? – introduce the festival, inform the viewers about why the festival was put on hold for a year, how the VPB began the process of inclusion and why it matters.
  2. Success and challenges – to showcase multiple perspectives on the ups and downs of starting an inclusion process.
  3. Future of Sustenance Festival – the overall lessons that were learned throughout the process, any advice they’d like to give to other organizations that were planning on approaching the same issue and how they’d like to see Sustenance Festival going forward i.e. secure funding.

Now that we had a rough idea of how the video would tell a story, we had to decide on extracting the relevant content from our raw data. The long weekend was approaching and we decided that it would be best if we used that spare time to listen to the audio recordings. The initial plan was for all of us to listen to all six audio recordings while taking notes on a google doc that would be shared among the group. This document would have the exact time (in minutes and seconds) where we thought that the interviewee had answered in a way that it would align with any of three categories mentioned above. However, due to time constriction, we split the work into parts, and each of us was responsible for listening to one of the interviews and partly transcribed the video into notes with time points followed by a summary of ideas. So when we came together, we were able to decide which parts of the interview to go into the video and create a cohesive narrative. At this stage, we came up with a 8-minute rough cut audio that carries all the information we want to present in our final product.

In order to deal with the technical issue, we decided to have a meeting with Duncan McHugh, a technician at LFS Learning Center. Duncan informed us that it is better to work from the video, because audio quality from the video has no significant difference from that in the audio recorder, and that it would be difficult to sync audio with video now that the audio has been cut into clips and put together. So we decided to start again with the video. Luckily, we noted down time points of audio clips that we cut from the original interview, so it was not as painful to find the corresponding video clips. In the end, we managed to come up with a 8-minute rough cut video, and more visual messages will be added in later.

Now what?

Final meeting at the Vancouver Parks Board

With nervous energy all around the boardroom, we presented an almost-complete version of the video to the people we interviewed. The feedback we received was extremely helpful even though we might have to wait a little longer to receive some extra footage and pictures to add as fillers. We are positive that the final version of the video will meet all the requirements of the Vancouver Parks Board and will be successfully used to obtain secure funding for the future of Sustenance Festival.

As we head into the last week ofthe term, our minds are geared to showcase our work not only to our instructors but to our fellow peers as well. This video that we spent hours piecing together tells the story of the Sustenance Festival, which is meant to be shared to highlight the value of working to create a more inclusive and just community in Vancouver. With a more in-depth perspective on the Sustenance Festival, we are prepared to share what we have learnt as a team and individually of what it means to work within the community and the intricacies of making a video. We hope to inspire other students to be involved in similar work related to food justice and to challenge themselves to step beyond the boundaries of UBC.

       Final group picture

Strategies for a Graceful Dismount

The biggest take away from this week’s session was the way our actions and sometimes, inability to act, can either positively or negatively impact ourselves and the communities around us.

Weekly Objectives + Achievements

We have now completed all our interviews! It has been a very exciting process and we are glad to have gathered all our footage by the end of October, giving us all of November to focus on making the video. During this upcoming week, we are utilizing our flexible learning period to get together and discuss how we are actually going to make the video. We have a large amount of footage (hours and hours of it…) that we need to go through. During our group meeting, we will discuss what ideas we want to highlight in our video, and use this as criteria to choose which clips are significant to include. We plan to string these clips together in a specific order to create a story within our video. This will help to maximize the influence of our video. We are excited to start this creative process.

Reflection on the Moment of Significant Change workshop

For our tutorial activity during this week (week 9), we did a “Moment of Significant Change” workshop as a group to reflect on our experiences and to identify the significant moments that have occurred in our project so far. We began by each individual member creating their own graph similar to the one below and shortly after came together as a group to share what was significant to us individually. While each member shared their graph, we noticed that we all had felt that our community partner meetings, the Vancouver Food Summit, and our recent experiences in interviewing and video taking process were common moments of significant change, supplemented with the gradual increase in knowledge from our class lectures. However, during this group discussion some members pointed out that within the category of “knowledge” they see it both as knowledge gained from our lectures as well as knowledge gained on the details of Sustenance Festival and our project. The trajectory of each knowledge differed for every week, and as a group we decided to depict that difference through making two categories of moments of significant change in our knowledge – “course knowledge” and “project knowledge”.

From the graph below, it seems that our course knowledge increased over time in a linear pattern. This is because concepts that were introduced during the beginning of the term were further understood when we were working on our community project. During week one and two, we learned about uncertainty and asset based community development. Two concepts that we got to apply during our first community partner meeting during flexible learning week. Our group agreed that the lectures on complex topics like gender, white privilege and indigenous food sovereignty were incredibly inspiring and made us reflect on our roles in the betterment of our communities. They also helped all of us in structuring our AER paper. Our group was in consensus with regards to moments of significant change both in class and our project, as well skills gained throughout the term that complemented both these areas.

However, for moments of significant change in our emotions, we did not all have similar feelings with regards to moments such as our 1st community partner meeting. While some members felt that they left with great uncertainty, others left the meeting with feelings of excitement and inspiration.

Our strategies for a successful project completion:

Time Management
With the semester drawing to a close and with many other due dates fast approaching, being able to manage and prioritize our time as a group would be an important aspect for the successful completion of this project. We will need to discuss and plan out when and how often to meet as a group to work on the remainder of the project – including discussing the structure of the video, looking through the footage that we have, and finally producing a 5-10 minute long video.

Technical Support
The last segment of our project – putting together the final video, will be something new for all of us in the group as we have relatively no experience in film-making and video production. Hence, we will be scheduling a meeting with the LFS Learning Centre to receive advice on which software to use and how to go about putting together the different clips and producing a final quality video.


Feedback from our Community Partner
As we decide on our weekly goals, it is also extremely crucial that there is leniency in time as we take into account receiving feedback from our community partners and the necessary changes that will need to be made. This will be an important step to ensure that the video we create is an accurate representation of the message they want to bring across.

Gaining Momentum

As we’re approaching the middle of the term, our community project seems to get clearer and more defined. With our team meetings we have discussed the end result of our project with the key players of the Sustenance Festival, we’re gaining momentum and are headed towards a more concrete video project.  Through our proposal, we hope to provide our readers with a detailed overview of this documentation process; including the goals, significance, and objectives of this project as well as the methods used to achieve them. To follow along with our journey in this project, please view the project proposal here.

 

What?

In week 4-8, after taking to our community partners again, we confirmed the length, structure and purpose of our video.To start collecting clips for the video and having a better understanding of the Sustenance Festival, we pleasantly attended the Vancouver Food Summit at the end of September as an educational opportunity to connect our learning from LFS 350 with the community. The  Vancouver Food Summit is an annual event that aims to facilitate conversations between people from a variety of backgrounds to share their experiences and perspectives of food. This year, the Vancouver Food Summit was dedicated to bringing people together, using storytelling and shared dialogue to deepen our collective understanding of the food justice and the diverse cultural food systems that lack recognition in Vancouver’s mainstream food movement. Stephanie, our community partner, shared her experiences of the work she is doing with the Vancouver Park Board to address issues of marginalization to help strengthen the Sustenance festival as a platform for meaningful cross-cultural collaboration. She’s currently in the process of building relationships with diverse community leaders, and during her presentation, she shared some audio recordings of their conversations to highlight of their experiences within the food system in Vancouver. Some of the community leaders she’s been connecting with were also present at the summit and shared some of their challenging experiences in finding meaningful ways to embrace their diverse values of food within Vancouver. The other panelists included members from the Wild Salmon Caravan, Jewish Museum and Archives of BC, Hua Foundation, and UBC’s own Roots on the Roof. The day captured the diverse perspectives of people from different backgrounds and served as a strong learning opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of food justice in Vancouver.


The Vancouver Food Summit, 2017

 

So what?

Attending the Vancouver Food Summit has definitely helped us to understand the context and bigger picture of this project; while helping us gain additional insights and some background knowledge about the parties who are directly involved in this relationship-building process. Being in the position of a listener helped us to see through the lens of various perspectives, challenging us to step away from our preconceived notions and dominant way of viewing the food system. This is especially important as the perspectives shared often have less room in the public narrative of food. From listening, we were exposed to a different narrative of food based on cultural values that differ from those supported by the dominant food system. This shed light on the integral role food plays in tying one’s identity to their culture.

 

Dawn Morrison, the Indigenous Leader of the Wild Salmon Caravan, shared with us the indigenous identity tied to ecology and the stewardship of the land, differing immensely from the western production paradigm based on extraction principles. She shared with us the importance of decolonizing our relationship with food, and the need to allow a broader, more conscious connection with the land that is based on a regenerative paradigm. This is especially important as environmental pressures are threatening current production methods and ecological stability on Earth.

 

When we try to fully understand one’s perspective, we can realize ourselves within the narrative that we ultimately do share. Addressing the injustice within Vancouver’s food system requires us to move beyond transactional cultural understanding and begin balancing the burden of responding. The Vancouver Food Summit provided a safe space to learn from one another, where we can utilize our learning to build a society where we can work together collectively. This may require us to be vulnerable as we address the challenges of our past and the uneven grounds we stand on today. When we seek the knowledge of a deeper understanding, we can move beyond transactional cultural understanding to one that is based on empathy, resilience, and the celebration of our diversity.

 

Now what?

Our experience from the summit is extremely helpful as we approach the remaining bulk of our assignment in the upcoming weeks. Listening to narratives from representatives at the summit have added a personal touch to this project and inspired us to represent the story of this festival to our best ability, in hopes that it will be a source of encouragement to those involved in this movement while inspiring others to be a part of it.  Along with the food summit, having our second meeting with our community partners have prompted us to our next step on the agenda, which includes interview sessions with the core committee members of the Sustenance Festival. We will be documenting these interviews through video which would then be included in our final video product. Our aim for the upcoming week is to brainstorm and craft effective interview questions that will be able to evoke responses to fully capture the essence of this relationship-building process. These interviews will be an imperative part of our project as it will serve as a window for us to understand the vision and expectations of all the committee members involved. It will definitely be an interesting and exciting undertaking as carrying out interviews and video recording is a relatively new experience for most of us in the group. That being said, along with it will certainly come uncertainties and unforeseen challenges. As stated by Tim Harford in his TedTalk, it is useful and important for us to remember that messy situations do not indicate failure. Instead, it can provide us with opportunities to come up with diverse solutions and force us to break out of our comfort zones, which is a process of learning in itself. Having now entered the 6th week of the term, we have certainly had our fair share of uncomfortable experiences that we had to learn from. There were moments in class where we explored certain sensitive topics that were not typically “comfortable” to talk about. However, all these sessions were really eye-opening as they were conducted in an engaging and purposeful approach; it provided us with a safe space to question while giving us the opportunity to listen to a diversity of opinions and learn from the stories of others. We are all really looking forward to what the next few weeks have in store for us!

 

Weekly Objectives, Achievements, upcoming objectives & strategies.

 

Achieved Objectives

Week 4:

  • Developed proposal
    • The proposal is available as a PDF in this blog post
  • Attended and documented Vancouver Food Summit on September 27th
    • Here we attempted to gain a better understanding of the context with which Sustenance Festival is operating within.
    • We rented two video cameras from UBC and filmed all the presentations and panel discussions at the summit.
    • Our group, through conversations with attendees and speakers at the summit, were able to explore a diverse range of perspectives on food justice issues.

Week 5:

  • Finalized and polished up proposal

 

Week 6: Flexible learning

  • Met with community partner to present proposal and determine interview process
    • We met with Brenda Racanelli and Stephanie Lim at the Yaletown Roundhouse Community centre on October 11th. During this meeting we discussed expectations and hopes for the video, as well as probed out some potential interview questions.
    • Stephanie and Brenda pitched ideas for themes they would like to see included in the video. They also helped to refine the scope of our project by confirming that our interviews will be only with the organizers of Sustenance festival.
    • Brenda opted to help us arrange interviews with the other organizers of Sustenance festival.
  • Confirmed interview dates & times with Brenda Racanelli and Stephanie Lim

 

Upcoming Objectives & Strategies:

 

Week 7:

  • Obtain bios of core committee members involved in planning of Sustenance Videos to assist in writing and polishing interview questions.
    • Strategy for achieving: Brenda Racanelli is writing the bios and will be sending them to us in the coming week.
  • Write and finalize interview questions by Thursday October 19th to send the core committee members to review before starting interviewing process.  
    • Strategy for achieving:We have set up a google word doc for all members to edit and brainstorm questions.
    • Strategy for achieving: Within our document compile questions and notes from previous community member partner meetings and discuss which questions would be most appropriate and pertinent for each respective interviewee.
  • Confirm interview dates with Rebecca, Jason, Ian & Lindsey through email that will be done throughout week 8 & 9 (from October 23 – 31)
    • Strategy for achieving:We have already contacted Brenda through email to connect with Jason Hseih, Ian Marcuse & Lindsay Cole who have not been in our community partner meetings, to introduce our project and ask for their availability.
    • Strategy for achieving: We will contact Rebecca, who returns on October 24th, through email to ask for her availability and confirm an interview date.
  • Rent out cameras for interviews next week
    • Strategy for achieving: Shazmeen & Sharon will rent from the Learning Commons.

 

Week 8: Flexible Learning

  • Interview Brenda Racanelli on Monday, October 23 (2-3pm)
    • Strategy for achieving: Bring the previously prepared questions and cameras to the interview. Have 2-3 group members conduct the interview.
  • Interview Stephanie Lim on Wednesday, October 25 (10 – 11am)
    • Strategy for achieving:  Bring the previously prepared questions and cameras to the interview. Have 2-3 group members conduct the interview.

References

Harford, Tim. (2015, September). How Messy Problems Can Inspire Creativity [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_harford_how_messy_problems_can_inspire_creativity?language=en.

LFS 350 Blog Post #1

“Global hunger isn’t about the absence of food; it’s about the presence of entrenched injustice.” – Ray Offenheiser

While the gross inequities of the global food system are starkly apparent and much discussed, what is often less visible, though equally pressing, are the inequities in our local communities. Who is our local food system for? Who isn’t it for? What is the “local food movement”, and who is deciding the direction in which it is moving? Whose inputs are left out of the equation? These questions speak to issues of equity and justice, and they ask us to reflect on the conditions of our own local food system. In recent years, the attempt to grapple with said inequities has been dubbed “food justice”. Food justice movements affect change in community food systems in part by bringing to the forefront voices which are frequently unheard or neglected. In creating a functional, sustainable and just local food system, it is vital there be participation and contribution from and inclusion of a wide variety of actors whom differ in class, income, gender, and race. Tackling issues of exclusion and marginalization then becomes paramount. It is from this point which we begin our work.

We are a group of six students who study in the faculty of Land and Food Systems and together we will be working on the Sustenance Festival project for this term. Our group consists of:

  1. Shazmeen Omar, majoring in Food, Nutrition and Health. Her interests include calligraphy, brush lettering, scrapbooking, reading, drinking tea etc.
  2. Wangzhiling (Sabrina) Wan, majoring in Nutrition Sciences. Her interests include books, films, music, traveling.
  3. Leighland Joyce, majoring in Global Resource Systems. He is interested in community development and issues of food sovereignty. His hobbies include cycling, making art and music, and film.
  4. Klara Huebsch, majoring in Global Resource Systems. Her interests include sustainable economic development and the emerging green economy. Her hobbies include playing piano, flow arts, and spending time in the outdoors.
  5. Sharon Yong, majoring in Food, Nutrition and Health. Her interests include travelling, exploring different countries and their various cultures. She also loves the outdoors and hopes to spend more of her remaining time in Vancouver exploring the beautiful nature it has to offer.
  6. Anwaar Baobeid, majoring in Food, Nutrition, and Health. Her interests include travelling and exploring new cities, as well as sketching, graphic design, and photography. She enjoys learning about different cultures, particularly related to the wide variety of ways that people cook and eat food around the world.

 “Together we’ll be working on the Sustenance Festival project”

Group interests, goals, reasons for choosing project, and what we wish to gain from our experiences in LFS 350

Coming from different countries with diverse ethnic groups and races, we have been able to experience first-hand how food and culture are able to unite and at the same time create barriers between communities. The reason why our group is interested in community development in the food system is to identify ways to increase inclusivity in Vancouver’s food movement. We believe that the diversity within the food system should be celebrated and be a source of pride for people of all different backgrounds. Through this project, we hope to learn more about the Vancouver food system and what it is about; flaws and strengths included, but to also gain observational and critical thinking skills. We also hope to engage with community partners to learn about their perspective on the Vancouver food movement, the current barriers to participation, and how to use their insights to build a more diverse and inclusive food system in Vancouver.  Most importantly, we wish to build relationships within the community. We chose this project because we believe it is extremely important to address marginalization within the food system and therefore hope to learn how to effectively communicate the process of building relationships with community partners.

Project Activities and Introduction to Community Organization

We will be working alongside the Vancouver Parks Board in the Sustenance Festival project. The Vancouver Park Board is a municipal body in Canada and part of their mission strives to develop, enliven, enhance, and promote arts, culture, and cultural diversity in Vancouver (City of Vancouver, 2017). This project is an inclusion process that involves a continuous relationship building between the Vancouver Park Board and the under-represented communities in Vancouver. As a team, our responsibilities would include documenting their research on the barriers of participation in the Sustenance Festival which grew out of the need to having conversations on Food Security in Vancouver. As stated in our first meeting with organizers of the festival, the glaring question that needed to be answered was, “Why is the food movement so white?”. They believe that the issues of marginalization and systemic racism needs to be addressed before hosting the festival again next year. As part of the relationship-building process, our task is to make a film documenting their process of engaging with various community partners to learn more on how to increase inclusivity in the food movement. This end product will then be used as a tool to create awareness in the larger Vancouver community.

“The Sustenance Festival  grew out of the need to having conversations on Food Security in Vancouver”

First impressions

“Food justice is about people across all communities being able to have access to nutritious, safe and culturally acceptable foods. However, even in a city as developed as Vancouver, people are still suffering from food insecurity. It moved me when Rebecca and Brenda at Park Board said that they are using funding to build relationship with marginalized communities in order to improve inclusion instead of just holding a two-week grand festival, because not only there will not be such a big “outcome”, but there is also no guarantee that they can eventually succeed. They are doing this only because of their passion and care for the communities, and that made me reflect my own way of thinking as well.” -Sabrina

 

“We recently had our first meeting with the Sustenance Team (Brenda and Rachel). It was very exciting hearing about theirwork and vision of a more diverse food system. Considering that our project is focused on working with marginalized communities, Sirolli’s TED Talk about truly listening holds utmost importance. Not only will we listen to what these communities have to share about Vancouver’s food system, but also include them in building the documentation process. We will ask for their input on how they would like to be represented in our video.” – Klara

 

“During the initial stages, there was a lot of uncertainty involved as we were only given a slight glimpse of what the theme of the project was and relatively vague instructions on how to go about it. On the 20th of September, we were able to meet our community partners to introduce ourselves and learn more about how we could work with them. From the meeting, we learned that they were planning on taking a thoughtful approach on this festival. Part of it was by building relationships and facilitating meaningful dialogues with the leaders of 10 under-represented communities, which fell in line with the principles of the asset-based community development. As mentioned by LaDonna Redman in her Tedx Talk, this project’s focus is to promote food justice, in a way that the stories and food culture of under-represented communities are seen and heard, changing the scene of the local food movement. While feeling excited about the project, we couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at the same time by the time restraint that we had. However, we are really looking forward to work through this together as a team and it will definitely be a great learning process for all of us.” – Sharon

 

“Walking into the meeting room, I felt unease and uncertainty, which continued to grow as the meeting proceeded. However, that uncertainty became a learning opportunity, allowing me to see beyond the walls of UBC. Although it was difficult to see the direction and final outcome of the project, what was constantly repeated and what I carried from our very first meeting was that the process in and of itself can be considered an outcome. The work that the Sustenance Festival has done over the past year while researching their lack of inclusivity paralleled and echoed Ernesto Sirolli’s words, to “shut up”, to “sit”, and to listen to the community rather than telling them what to do. This I believe is critical to the success of the festival in and representing the diverse community members in Vancouver as they are meeting with local people, connecting with them, and hearing their experiences related to the food movement.” – Anwaar

With all these burning questions in mind, we are excited to take on this community project by coupling it with lessons learned in class and how they apply to our day to day lives.

References

City of Vancouver. (2017). Arts and Culture. Retrieved from http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/arts-and-culture.aspx

TEDxTalks. (2013, Mar 4) Food + Justice = Democracy: LaDonna Redmond at TEDxManhattan 2013. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydZfSuz-Hu8

TEDxTalks. (2012, August) Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!: Ernesto Sirolli at TEDxEQChCh 2012. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/chXsLtHqfdM