During the growth phase, a council develops its capacity in many areas, such as:
- Understanding of the community’s food issues
Why create support systems?
Support systems ensure the council can continue taking action over time. Without adequate support systems, a council can burn out. Or it can fracture into disparate groups, without the benefit of coordination.
Support systems are not about controlling, but rather, enabling. For example:
- Enable people to discuss and find others interested in similar things
- Encourage people to spend time developing relationships and building trust
- Setting aside time for reflection – to learn about what seems to be working
- Finding ways to need less money; identifying resources that are already available
- Providing training, coaching, and learning communities to build skills
How do you create support systems?
Form a support committee which will be responsible for developing, implementing, evaluating, and maintaining systems for:
- communication – within the council / network (not external communications, which may be a specific council function)
- resource flow
- training and support
- strategy development
What else should you consider?
Consider using a network approach, such as that in Network Weaver Handbook, to create agile systems. Given that most people are volunteers, all council work has to be manageable and energizing. Creating a top-heavy set of systems will not be supportive. The focus should be on supporting, not driving or dictating. Creating light-weight systems is essential for long-term sustainability.
Tools & Resources
The following tools and resources are helpful in getting educated about support systems.
- Network Weaver Handbook – Chapter 14: Creating Enabling Environments
- Network Weaving Learning Community – Starting in May 2014