Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

Our Story — The End or a New Beginning

Ultimately this project was about building resilience at multiple levels of the socio-ecological model. By using forums, we extended our knowledge about farms, farm families, and communities to increase the awareness, understanding, and actions of key stakeholders and decision makers. We wanted to make a deeper impact that would improve their well- being. Though we may not have used the word “resilience” as we designed the forums, it is our ultimate goal that systems are changed that support farms and our food systems. We know the work is not done, but this project and these processes have moved us closer; it is a new beginning. As we complete this guide, we have completed a 4-month follow-up survey from the 2021 forum participants and our key informant interviews with our Strategic Doing™ teams. The results are showing that the projects are moving forward, funding is being sought and there is discussion of reconvening interested forum participants. The goal would be to provide an overview of the Strategic Doing™ project results, the identified roadblocks, and hold further discussions regarding next steps and identification of additional resources. Additionally, follow up correspondence to all forum invitees will offer an overview of the forum and its outcomes. We hope that these actions will re-engage and increase participation and input into what comes next. We intend to support the ripple effects that are currently happening and maybe identify some additional pebbles to create new ripples. A new landing page was developed and launched in 2022 on a University of Delaware website found at: http://udel.edu/extension/resilience. Included are resources to support community engagement and resilience as well as farm, farm family and food system resilience. We encourage you to visit and use these resources. Going forward, the team will publish articles and present information to Extension professionals regarding community engagement and resilience-building approaches. We plan to seek some additional funding and partnerships to continue to build on our findings and further our farm resilience initiatives. Lastly, we plan on coaching four states who have expressed interest in conducting forums and we would be happy to assist others as well.

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