Accessibility and Viability: A Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to a Wicked Problem for the Local Food Movement
AbstractThere is a tension between enhancing vulnerable people's access to local nutritious food and ensuring viable incomes for local farmers. This tension arises as a result of interactions and processes scaling outward to the broad level of economic and political ideologies (Ikerd, 2005; 2012). We suggest that by conceiving of this tension as a wicked problem and employing complex adaptive systems theory, we create space in which community members are empowered to share existing knowledge and develop new knowledge as they innovate potential solutions and discuss constructive change. We introduce this space as the beginnings of a dialogue-driven, shared journey through four features of the back loop of the adaptive cycle. Drawing on this theoretical foundation as well as Block's (2009) structure for creating a community of belonging, we hosted two one-half-day-long events for 90 community members, including farmers, food-insecure people, government representatives, and public agencies. This bottom-up, emergent approach to developing new system patterns may ultimately transform the domain of the problem and present viable alternative futures, which then may be adapted to the local reality and enhance community well being.
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