What we achieve is only as important as how we achieve it. In its projects, FoodARC strives to be inclusive and co-creates knowledge and action to ensure that activities and policy recommendations are rooted in what Nova Scotian communities need and hope for.
Collectively-identified values that guide our work include:
- meaningful relationships;
- sharing power and responsibility;
- building individual, organizational, community, and systems capacity;
- participatory methods and leadership approaches;
- transformative ways of understanding and taking action;
- unique contributions and perspectives of all team members and participants;
- responsive and accountable leadership;
- clear and transparent decision-making processes;
- accessibility of opportunities to participate; and
- activities rooted in real community needs.
Important Concepts for our Work Together
Participatory Action Research
The overarching principles that inform all of our work are rooted in Participatory Action Research (PAR). This research approach raises questions about whose knowledge is valued in society and how some voices are privileged over others. Through participatory action research, new understanding and knowledge is creating involving many, diverse perspectives, including those of individuals and communities affected by the issue; in our case, that means individuals and communities who experience community food insecurity (i.e., individuals and communities experiencing poverty and lack of food access as well as others currently marginalized by the global food system like small-scale farmers and fishers).
There is a clear need for action on community food security and for innovative ways to translate knowledge into action.1 Knowledge mobilization is defined2 as the process of getting knowledge into active service in society based. Knowledge mobilization is political in nature and works to influence decision-making and policy by getting the information to the right people in the right format at the right time.
Within ACT for CFS, we are also informed by political economy, which is a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of power relations in society that emphasizes the way economic factors (such as how people earn a living, and how property is owned and used) shape political outcomes (including policies, but also broader social trends such as the wage gap between men and women) and vice versa.
The political economy approach emphasizes understanding the messiness of how policy is “really” made.
1. Raphael D. Social determinants of health: Canadian perspectives. 1st ed. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2004.
2. Knowledge Mobilization in Participatory Action Research: A Scan and Synthesis of Literature. Prepared for the Knowledge Mobilization Working Group of the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) Activating Change Together (ACT) for Community Food Security. (Miranda Cobb and Rose Murphy. Coordinated and directed by: Doris Gillis, Christine Johnson, and Rita MacAulay. June 29, 2011