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Conference: Rooted in Relationship – Power & Privilege in Food Systems

Conference: Rooted in Relationship – Power & Privilege in Food Systems

People-centered Policy and Practice

This conference was co-sponsored by the Equitable Food Oriented Development Collaborative, Communities in Partnership, the Sanford School of Public Policy, and the World Food Policy Center. It was held on April 21, 2022 at Duke University. Facilitated panel discussions explored how to move from charitable interventions to a justice-based approach to food systems reform and community development. The central theme of each discussion is shifting power and working in support of (not on behalf of) community-rooted organizations working on the health and economic viability of historically marginalized communities.

This panel discussion looks at how research institutions interact with communities before, during and after conducting research. The goal of the discussion was to: 1) identify who benefits from the current system (how academics most often interact with communities in extractive ways), and how we might think differently about these models and who is doing this well. 2) discuss how think tanks could become more rooted in the communities they are serving; 3) describe whose thoughts/values/needs are being centered in think tanks; and 4) set the stage to uplift the community expertise and undo some of the damage when academic institutions co-opt work. Panelists give examples of how typical research practices are dehumanizing and extractive for communities, and make recommendations on how to change this dynamic.

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In his keynote address, Dr. Henry McKoy discusses the need to give communities autonomous power to address their own needs. He documents the racial wealth gap in the U.S., introduces the concept of "poverteering" as it relates to entrepreneurial ownership and wealth, and trends for Black-owned businesses. He makes the case for entrepreneurial and economic equity in development as the necessary precursor to educational, health, and workforce equity.

Speaker:

Dr. Henry Clay McKoy, Jr.,Department of Energy, Director of the Office of State and Community Energy Programs

Video, transcript, presentation slides, key takeaways

Panelists share examples of how some CDFIs do not serve the communities they are intended to serve, and what to do about it. The goal of the discussion was to explain how to change the CDFI operational narrative from one of risk to relationship, and to shift power and decision-making from a deficit model towards a reparative one. Dialogue focused on why and how funding often doesn’t get allocated towards collective wealth-building strategies for communities. Panelists make recommendations for how CDFIs can achieve greater equity in their work by shifting to relationship-based decision making. Speakers discuss strategies of several innovative CDFIs who are having deep impact.

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In this discussion, speakers describe how current philanthropic community engagement strategies fail to achieve the desired impact, and why. Panelists provide specific examples, both positive and negative, and make specific recommendations for how to shift philanthropy towards concepts such as democratically-controlled funds, reparative funding, and incorporating more relational loans and grants into funding programs.  

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Co-hosts