Hello everyone! My name is Ann Mansfield and I am one of Co-Conveners for the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. As you may know, our initiative is one of 9 Food & Fitness collaboratives funded by the W.K.Kellogg Foundation – to create healthier communities where children and their families have access to local healthy food and safe places to be physically active and play. The NE Iowa FFI is the only rural model. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you the work that has been happening with the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative – specifically some of our work with Active Living.
I’d like to share a little background about our region and our work. The NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative encompasses six rural counties in the northeast corner of Iowa. This area has just under 100,000 people in small communities spread over a rural geographic area almost the size of Connecticut. These six counties are thinly populated, with 26 persons per square mile. We have one town with 8,000 people and only one other town has more than 5,000 people. The majority of our residents are dispersed across the landscapes on farms and acreages. Our region is made up of the working poor. Many are running farming operations in addition to their factory or ‘town’ jobs. Our communities are small and close-knit with schools serving as a primary connector or “hub” for many activities and functions .
The focus of the WKKF Food & Fitness Initiative is a community-driven process focused on policy and system change to impact the food and fitness environments where we live, learn, work & play. Early in our planning, we were introduced to Daniel H. Kim’s Organizing for Learning framework and tools by the WKKF. This framework has guided us to approach this grass-roots planning and implementation effort from a System’s Thinking perspective. One of the first models we learned about was the Core Theory of Success -- about the presence of system casual loops in organizations, communities, in every system we interact with on a daily basis. When we were introduced to the Core Theory of Success which describes the importance of Quality Relationships and it’s impact on Quality Collective Thinking, we knew that this Organizing for Learning Framework was a fit for NE Iowa! This model is quite simple and yet profound and fundamental -- As Quality Relationships (mutual trust, effective communication & sharing of information) rise – the Quality of Collective Thinking (more diverse view points shared & considered, more quality ideas emerge) improves – leading to an increase in the Quality of Actions and Results. Achieving high-quality results has a positive effect on the Quality of Relationships, creating a reinforcing Engine of Success. This model became the foundation for our work and as we invested in creating a Learning Organization for the NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, we actually created our own Core Theory for Success. By articulating our Core Theory of Success for our work, we will be more likely to pay attention to both the short-term and long-term consequences of our actions. (I am happy to share that with any of you who might be interested after this presentation.)
Framework for Planning; Hierarchy of Choices (Daniel Kim – Foresight as the Central Ethic of Leadership) With a working knowledge of the Core Theory of Success and the importance of investing in relationships across our 6 counties, we created a organizational structure for planning that represented stakeholder from all 6 counties. We facilitated meetings and discussions to invest and promote the Quality of Relationships from across the region within the context of a NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative Regional Leadership Team. About 6 months into our planning, we facilitated a 2-day retreat with our FFI Regional Leadership Team where we determined our CORE VALUES (Identity - Who are we?), FUNDAMENTAL CHOICE (Purpose - Why do we exist?), and our PRIMARY CHOICE (Vision – What do we do we want to create?) Creation of a regional Shared Vision – another cornerstone of the FFI planning .
The working vision of the NE Iowa FFI: NE Iowa is a unique place where all residents and guests experience, celebrate and promote healthy locally grown food with abundant opportunities for physical activity and play EVERY DAY. Healthier people make stronger families and vibrant communities.
Next cornerstone of our work in planning; Creative Tension Model (Daniel H. Kim and Diane Cory – adapted from Robert Fritz, 1989, The Path of Least Resistance The NE Iowa FFI embraced the concept of …”Vision can be a powerful force for action when it is clearly articulated and if there is genuine desire to bring it into reality”…(Daniel H. Kim Organizing for Learning – Strategies for Knowledge Creation and Enduring Change). We We engaged almost 60 Stakeholders in creating the Vision; we vetted it over the next several months in many discussions with all of the aligned work groups, county teams, and other stakeholders through out the region. We had “buy-in”. We had commitment to a Vision. So now what ? Designing a process for involving people in sharing a vision is only one part of the formula for success. Visioning also requires a commitment to articulating current reality with clarity and honesty – talking about daily events as they really are, not as we wish them to be. (Daniel H. Kim – Organizing for Learning) Example: the difference between approaches Current Reality – Data, Assessments, Events observed Premise of this CTM is that the gap between current reality and our vision creates STRUCTURAL TENSION (we want to RESOLVE this tension!)… and we often approach the GAP between where we are right now and where we’d like to be with a Problem-Solving approach or REACTIVE ORIENTATION. The CTM introduces the shift in our approach to resolving this tension in a Creative way – GENERATIVE ORIENTATION – focusing our efforts and investment on what we want to create instead of what we do NOT want.
Planning… engaging stakeholders from across the region to collect data and asses the current reality; Walkable/Bikeable Community Mapping Inventory of NE Iowa Built Environment School Use Survey NE Iowa Regional Safe Routes to School Project Community Assessments by Luther College Students All of our Assessments are posted on FFI Website; www.iowafoodandfitness.org/site/data.html
Examples – how did we use the photographs
Heirarchy of Choices Planning Framework Vision developed … Current Reality (Assessments) determined… NOW – Need to determine the HOW? Or STRATEGIES to reaching the Vision.
… All this data…now what? The Vision Deployment Matrix (Daniel H. Kim – Organizing for Learning) offers a schema for strategically planning how to cross the “chasm” between our current reality and our vision by painting a comprehensive picture of the desired future reality and the current reality at each level of perspective… We spent several months – and facilitated regional discussions with 6 County Teams, Work Groups and Our Regional Leadership Team and Vision WG – **DESCRIBE FEEDBACK LOOP FOR COMMUNITY FEEDBACK VISION – STAYING FOCUSED ON OUR DESIRED FUTURE REALITY: Mental Models – What are the beliefs and assumptions that will be congruent with the Vision? Systemic Structures – How can we create structures that will be consistent with those beliefs? Patterns of Behavior – What patterns of behavior do we want the structures to produce? Events – Can we describe tangible events that would indicate that the vision had been achieved? With these questions and the resulting discussion, we began to clarify how our future reality will operate at multiple levels and create a more robust picture of what we want; Galvanizing the shared vision for this work DESCRIBING CURRENT REALITY: Start with the EVENTS – as it is easier to describe the daily events that characterize the current system. IDENTIFY GAPS/CHALLENGES AT EACH LEVEL: Action Steps to close the GAPS Indicators of Progress Time line This whole process define our Community Action Plan that we submitted to W.K.Kellogg for Implementation
. NE Iowa FFI – Community Action Plan 3 Strategies School Local Food Active Living
Focus on System and Policy Change; Development of Policy Targets in each of the Strategy – Tactic areas” Policy Target of Active Living – Walkable-Bikeable Communities (REVIEW questions… WHAT IS THE CHANGE? WHAT ARE THE QUESTOIONS? WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?
ACTIVITIES TO SUPPORT POLICY TARGET – TACTIC - STRATEGY Here is the map of our 6 county region with the 20 school districts outlined. We have been able to engage 16 of the 20 schools in our region in the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. All 16 of these schools have youth teams. 12 of the 16 schools are pilots; 6 Farm to School and 6 Safe Routes to School. There is 1 Farm to School and 1 Safe Routes to School pilot in each county. The pilots were selected based on the following criteria: Free & Reduced Lunch rate in the District Presence of a Food & Fitness Youth team Readiness for pilot commitment and work Representative of our region; larger schools with multiple buildings & campuses and small one-campus k-12 settings
ACTIVITIES TO SUPPORT TACTIC – STRATEGY Presenter - Workshops
SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL PILOTS – ** Feedback loop with community – review data/assessments with Pilot school communities – 20 schools mapped & surveyed by RC&D
ACTIVITIES – SRTS PILOTS – SRTS – 5 Es – Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement, Evaluation ** ENGAGEMENT Bicycle Rodeo in Riceville, IA – May 2009 140 students participated – coordinated by FFI Youth and their coach
ACTIVITIES – TO SUPPORT TACTIC, POLICY TARGET EDUCATION – ENCOURAGEMENT - National Walk to School Day – October 2009 After all of the work… vision, assessment, Mark Fenton…. Still adjustments!
ACTIVITIES TO SUPPORT TACTICS, POLICY TARGET & STRATEGY - WORKSHOPS Although we’ve developed a Shared Vision, invested in RELATIONSHIPS, Talk about adjustments to policy targets, etc.
Investing in the future of Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard & Winneshiek Counties Ann Mansfield Co-Convener & Project Coordinator
Ensure that school district policies & practices support healthy living of children, families and community members.
Ensure that local, health-promoting food is available and affordable in all communities, neighborhoods and institutions.
Ensure that communities have a built environment that supports abundant opportunities for physical activity and play.
Tactics and Activities to Achieve Policy & System change…
Support a regional built environment learning community and/or work group
Regionally increase youth and family participation in physical activity and play every day.
Regionally advance community planning and policy change for spaces and places for physical activity and play
Policy and System Change Target: Development/maintenance of infrastructure for walking and bicycling to and from schools in rural communities.
Activities to support change in target
Safe Routes to School team in 6 pilot school-communities
Teams will create plans to promote walking and biking to school in their community.
Strategy C: Ensure that communities have a built environment that supports abundant opportunities for physical activity and play. Physical Activity and Built Environment Tactic: Regionally increase youth and family participation opportunities, programming, and system/plans for physical activity and active play every day. Policy Target #4: Development/maintenance of infrastructure for walking and bicycling to and from schools in rural communities. What is the Change? Local Questions Potential Key Players Local State Questions Potential Key Players State Federal Questions Potential Key Players Walking and bicycling infrastructure exits in communities for children and adults to use for local transportation How many children walk or bike to and from school? How many adults use walking or biking for local transportation? What is the infrastructure that currently exists for walking and biking? What is needed to improve the infrastructure for walking and biking?
School board members
Wellness Policy Team
County/City Dept. of Health, Planning, Public Safety, Transportation
Biking and Trail groups
Are there state policies regarding children getting to and from school as it relates to walking and biking? If yes, what are they? What are the state opportunities for funding for development and maintenance of walking and bicycling infrastructure?
Iowa Dept. of Education, Iowa Dept. Public Health, Public Safety, Transportation
Iowa State Board of Education
Iowa Healthy Kids Task Force
Iowa Partners for Healthy Kids
State Associations for Physical Education/Activity, Sports, Health, PTA, Biking, Public Safety
What policies in the Transportation Bill relate to infrastructure for walking and bicycling? What are the federal opportunities for funding for development and maintenance of walking and bicycling infrastructure? US Departments of Education, Transportation, Public Safety Nat’l Conference State Legislatures House and Senate Committees on Education and Transportation Staff of Senators Harkin and Grassley; Representative Braley and Rep. Latham Nat’l health, Public Safety and Physical Activity Groups What might success look like? Increased number of youth walking or biking to school. How might we measure the impact? Increased number of youth reporting walking & # bikes ridden to school on Fall and Spring dates.
What Activities will help us activate our Tactic, leading to policy and system change?
Safety Routes to School mini-grants in 6 target schools.