Connect the Dots and Change the Game--Linda Booth Sweeney


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  • © 2010 Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development, Inc. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make copies of this document for educational purposes only, provided that this copyright notice is reproduced in full.
  • I purchased the pictures of the frog, military family and school from
  • I purchased the pictures of the frog, military family and school from
  • Overweight in children and adolescents is generally caused by a lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns resulting in excess energy intake, or a combination of the two. Genetics and social factors - socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, media and marketing, and the physical environment ミ also influence energy consumption and expenditure.
    At the mid-course review of the Healthy People 2010 objectives for overweight and obesity, progress is dismal. Current estimates for overweight children in the U.S. are climbing to 20%.
  • Show this slide
  • Consider showing this process as dynamic and iterative:
  • Slide #4: Development of Childhood Obesity
    Suggestion: USE flash,to show balance tipping toward energy in. What are the dynamics here?
    Consider: Is there some relationship between the variables or the right side and left side? Does changes in the built environment, amplify the decline in physical activity? (reinforcing loop)? If so, we can show that on this slide so showing interconnections and dynamics as well.
    What has increased portion size?
    What trends have led to changes in the built environment?
  • focus on disconnected events recurring patterns
    thinking in straight lines thinking in circles
    static (a world standing still) dynamic (a world changing over time)
  • A project I’m working on for an Audubon site in the U.S.
  • As chickens move around the farm:
    A) Their poop improves the soil
    B) They eat parasites from cow manure and other bugs
    C) Eat and so help to keep down the weeds
    D) Move around good nutrients, aerate the soil.
    Solve for Pattern”
    Solving more than one problem at a time (at least three) while minimizing or eliminating the creation of new problems. -- Wendell Berry
  • Example from “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, pp. 140 - 146.
  • Leaders from Boston, USA, have described a secondary effect.
    Less criminal behavior creates a feeling of safety in the neighborhood, leading more people to spend time outside. The resulting adult supervision restores a sense of order and lowers crime.
    If these social scientists’ theories are correct, the leaders tapped into some powerful reinforcing feedback loops to meet their goals.
  • Connect the Dots and Change the Game--Linda Booth Sweeney

    1. 1. Linda Booth Sweeney October 19, 2010
    2. 2. Living Systems Natural Resources Water quality Leadership and Management Family Health Economic Development Crops and Livestock Youth Leadership
    3. 3. Lots of moving parts Differing goals among stakeholders Situations that are chronic, seemingly intractable Policies that have met resistance, or worse, back fired Multiple levels of complexity Systems Approach
    4. 4. A Systems Approach Understand systems Make systems visible Work with systems
    5. 5.
    6. 6. A Heap: What is a System? A System: • A collection of parts • Two or more parts interacting as a whole, within some boundary • Not changed by adding or taking parts away • Behavior changes if elements are added or taken away
    7. 7. a soccer team laundry a family Heaps and Systems a schoola CD collection
    8. 8. Heap or System? Turn to a partner…
    9. 9. 1. Tightly interconnected Some of what we know about… Living Systems 2. Actions and results are separated 3. Whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 4. Change happens through feedback
    10. 10. Midnight the Pony Sheep Cows Mia the Goat animal waste 4. Change occurs through feedback duck weed water quality insects turtles/frogs storm water WETLAND HEALTH “Before” nitrogen
    11. 11. High quality water supports a variety of insect life STORMWATER MANAGEMENT (“AFTER”) Turtles and frogs eat duckweed Duckweed covers pond, blocking light and reducing oxygen flow duckweed turtles & frogs manure + water quality insects - Insects are food for turtles and frogs - Less nitrogen reaches pond People depend on wetlands for our water supply people swale retention area Gravel and sand in swale filter our particulates Retention area holds water away from pond plants Filtering plants absorb excess nutrients (nitrogen) L. B. Sweeney, Drumlin Farm, CLE, 2010
    12. 12. Principles of Living Systems Childhood Obesity QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Almost 20%: number of overweight in children in the U.S.
    13. 13. What factors influence childhood obesity?
    14. 14. Source:  Birth weight Obesity in one or both parents Time spent watching TV Amount of sleep Size in early life Rapid weight gain in 1st year  Rapid catch-up growth between birth and 2 years  Early development of body fatness in pre- school years QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Childhood Obesity: Laundry List
    15. 15. Most factors that influence obesity do not work in isolation. Whack-A-Mole!
    16. 16. City of Somerville 75,000 residents Ethnically diverse 4.1 square miles with 3% of its land area as open space Median household income is $46,315
    17. 17. • A community-based, participatory, environmental approach to reduce undesirable weight gain. • A 3 year controlled trial to study 1st – 3rd grade culturally and ethnically diverse children and their parents from 3 cities outside Boston. R06/CCR121519-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additional support by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, United Way of Mass Bay, The US Potato Board, Stonyfield Farm, and Dole Foods RESULTS: SUS reduced approximately one pound of weight gain over eight months for an eight-year-old child.
    18. 18. This method brings researchers and communities into partnerships for systemic and systematic investigation, with the collaboration of those affected by the issue being studied, for purposes of education and taking action or effecting social change. Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Sound familiar?
    19. 19. Community Engagement Model Community Mapping: Understanding connections Participation Assessment: Identifying partners Information Gathering & Delivery Capacity Building: Making it happen Model Adapted from National Resources Canada Employ The Social Change Model of Leadership Development Hold community meetings Community council formation Perform environmental assessments Logo and brand development Conduct focus groups & key informant interviews Listen… Build Relationships & Establish Trust Identify the problem as a community priority Capitalize on social injustices Identify champions
    20. 20. Food Advertising/ Marketing Aimed at Children Plethora of low cost/energy dense foods Physical Education and Recess Cuts Development of Childhood Obesity Multi Media Saturation Increased Portion Sizes Energy IN Energy OUT Sugar Sweetened Beverage Consumption Frequent Eating Away from Home Declines in Physical Activity Changing Built Environment
    21. 21. Media School: food services, curriculum, teacher development Built Environment: safe, well-lit parks, walking school bus Food Systems: farmers markets, restaurants 8 Interacting Systems Effects Community: Healthy eating/active living S.U.S./University Partnership Family: parent outreach Child -- in-school, after-school, at home 8 Interacting Systems Effects
    22. 22. The Built Environment Effect Expenditure of Calories Amount of New Physical Activity Improvement to Built Environment Collaborative Partnerships with Community Gap between current reality & ideal environment Community Infrastructure Changes
    23. 23. Shifts… Insider looking in RelationshipsParts (silos) Straight lines A-->B Closed loops Static Dynamic Outsider looking in
    24. 24. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Let’s Try It: Connecting the Dots L.B. Sweeney Silos System 1. Pick an issue. 2. What are the key factors or players? List them. 3. How are those factors/players interrelated? (Draw a sketch, if so inspired). 4. What are the benefits of viewing these factors as part of an interconnected system? School lunch Families Economy Access to Healthy Food Youth as Leaders
    25. 25. From Open to Closed Loops Let’s try it! Right-Hand Fist Left-hand Rest on Neighbor’s Fist
    26. 26. From Open to Closed Loops
    27. 27. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. chicken manure pollutant
    28. 28. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this pi cture. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this pi cture. chicken manure healthy cows The Egg Mobile healthy soil Scratch! Scratch! Yum! These bugs are tasty! QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. parasites & flies & undigested grains growth of grass & plants decaying plants & animals cow manure “ milk and beef healthy chickens Integrated Farming System Pasture Poultry System control flies
    29. 29. Fixing Broken Windows Criminal behavior Prosecute all crimes
    30. 30. Can you close the loop? Effort to prosecute small crimes Criminal behavior Visible signs of successful crimes Sense of order People outside (feeling of safety in neighborhood)
    31. 31. Where can you close the loop… … and let the system do the work for you. •Turn to a partner. • Where can you create closed, reinforcing loops? • Are there ways for your efforts to trigger reactions in the wider system that sustain the positive effects of your actions? • Where can small results “snowball” into large results?
    32. 32. Questions?
    33. 33. Cooperative Extension exists to bring the resources of the University of Wisconsin to you, where you live and work. Cooperative Extension you ?
    34. 34. We teach, learn, lead and serve, connecting people with the University of Wisconsin, and engaging with them in transforming lives and communities. ….and…
    35. 35. The Cooperative Extension is uniquely capable of uniting communities to meet common goals and enjoy shared benefits. Educators, healthcare providers, spiritual leaders, businesses and town halls intersect in their need for learning , strong local economies, land stewardship, food security and a new generation of informed and contributing community members. That point of intersection is the Cooperative Extension.
    36. 36. “People who don’t have a concept of the whole, can do very unfortunate things…”. Joseph Campbell