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Focal Point Exercise

Seedlings on Windowsill

The purpose of this exercise is to quickly identify the general aim of the proposed food council.  Participants should represent a cross-section of stakeholders.  Ideally, participants will have learned about food councils to have some idea of a typical focus.

Materials Needed

  • Post-It Notes
  • Sharpie Thin-Tip Markers
  • Printed Signs
  • Masking/Painters Tape


  1. Distribute post-its & markers to group.
  2. Instruct them to write their FIRST response to the question you ask, and that they should do so quickly.
    Speed is of the essence here, as you don’t want them to over-think it.
    Simple is better – don’t wordsmith, don’t tap your extensive vocabulary.
  3. After 10 seconds, stick the question on the wall and ask them to stick their post-its on the wall underneath.
    This should be a fast-paced activity.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 with each question until all five are answered.
    Take a photo while they are sticking notes to the wall – documenting the group in process is helpful telling the story later.
  5. Once complete, take a photo of the wall for documentation purposes.
  6. Collect all the sticky notes with the appropriate sign.
  7. Transcribe the answers for each question into a Word document for documentation purposes.
    Be sure to include any responses from people who missed the meeting.
  8. Get the text ready for Wordle.
    – Copy the text from the Word document into another file.
    – Replace each space with a paragraph mark (use the find/replace feature – special characters).
    – Sort by paragraph alphabetically.
    – Clean up the list so that singular / plural are the same, fix typos, etc.
    – Delete common modifiers (a, an, the, etc.).
  9. Use cleaned up text list in to create a visual diagram of the group’s focal point.
  10. Save the Wordle, the photos, and the Word transcription (from step 7) as documentation of the exercise for the group.

NOTE: Focal Area Assessment is a handout for people who miss the meeting but want to participate; it allows them to fill in their answers.  These answers should be incorporated in step 7.