Closing the circle: creating a resilient strategy for Voedselteams

Leuven, 4th of March 2016. Recently we posted a blog on the first local case study workshop organized in Leuven (read about it in this post). At that moment confusion around the topic of visioning, the building of scenarios and the testing of strategies still existed. During the second workshop, loose ends were tied together and the different elements of the two workshops were turned into an adapted and resilient plan for the future actions of Voedselteams. 

During the first workshop we downscaled European scenarios from an earlier workshop to the Flemish level. The idea behind these scenarios was not that they were predictions for the future. Rather, they were seen as challenging possible contexts that could be used in order to challenge and improve the future strategy of VT.

Voedselteams (VT) are an alternative food network that builds on the engagement and cooperation of individuals and families. The food teams are consumer teams that together organize their (local) food purchases and deliveries. The teams are supported by a central organization, that next to its social enterprise function also is registered as an official socio-cultural movement.

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During the second workshop, 25 individuals were brought together to work on the strategic plan for 2016-2020 of VT. These individuals were from a wide range of backgrounds. Of course, VT members were present, but apart from this, the workshop was attended by scientists, policy makers, members from civil society organizations, teachers, and high school students.

In the morning, participants were asked to revisit the scenarios from the previous workshop and to adapt them in the way they deemed necessary. After doing this, each group was asked to go through VT’s strategic plan step by step while keeping in mind the following question: “is this action/strategy/etc. possible in this scenario, or not? If not, what could be recommended (concretely) to make the plan better able to work in this scenario?”.

The scenarios challenged VT with a wide range of elements like a drop in or elimination of subsidies, a drop in number of members, a complete reorganization of the CAP, robotization of agriculture, an apathetic population, etcetera. This exercise thus left us with a diverse range of strengths, weaknesses and accordingly adapted actions of the strategic plan over three different possible futures.

 

In the afternoon, groups were reshuffled. Each group worked on a specific element of the strategic plan, identifying concrete elements that would work throughout all of the possible future scenarios. In this way, what started off as an abstract process of envisioning multiple possible futures was now finalized into a concrete plan. In this way, VT got left with concrete actions and goals that they can now start incorporating not only in their five-year planning, but also in the long-term. This new and adapted plan, then, is deemed to be strong and resilient over multiple uncertain futures and developments, making VT’s goals and actions more resilient towards the future.

The results will be announced on VTs General Assembly, which takes place on Saturday 12th of March in Brussels, thereby concretely incorporating the adaptations into VTs plans. Next to this, the results of this workshop together with outcomes of several in-depth interviews, will be put alongside the results of other European local case studies. This will allow us to not only adapt this strategy very concretely to VT and the Belgian level, but also to draw conclusions on the European implications of these local case studies. More on this will follow in a future blog.

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