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Making planning actionable: lessons from the Colorado Farm to School Task Force

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist known for her holistic understanding of human adaptation and the interconnectedness of all aspects of human life. Mead believed in our innate capacity to learn from each other to create change, viewing diversity as a resource that allows for greater exchange of ideas and experiences.

Farm to School LogoOne of the best parts of my job at Spark is the opportunity to partner with thoughtful, committed groups of people every day who create systems-level change to society’s most complex problems. One of those groups is the Colorado Farm to School Task Force. In its early stages, the Task Force teamed up with Spark and embarked on an intensive Strategic Roadmapping session. Strategic Roadmaps start with defining the change we want to see in the world and working backwards to define smaller changes that will lead to that big change. True to Mead’s observations of interconnectedness, Strategic Roadmaps consider the broader context within which a group is working and focus on the “why” of the work rather than the “how,” allowing for adaptation in a changing environment.

Colorado Farm to School RoadmapAt the end of the day, a Strategic Roadmap is not just a pretty picture (although they certainly look nice!) – it is actionable! In fact, the Task Force revisits their Roadmap quarterly to integrate new learning about the context and environment in which they are working, and to plan their shorter- and longer-term strategies moving forward. One of the most powerful ways the Task Force uses the Roadmap is to identify priorities and evaluate whether emerging opportunities are likely to influence the changes they hope to see in the world. It’s easy for a statewide body to get lost in the large and dynamic field of food systems; the Roadmap is one tool to facilitate strategic action within such an environment. Indeed, the Task Force is a diverse group of citizens committed to changing the world through strategic learning and thoughtful action.

 

Interested in learning more about adaptive planning like the Strategic Roadmap? Our Adaptive Planning Toolkit guides users through the roadmapping process and provides broader strategies for planning in dynamic environments.

Curious about farm to school and what it means for our students, local economies, and food systems? October is National Farm to School Month, a great time to learn about the organizations working to improve healthy eating in schools across the state and the nation.