Upstream Collaboration Theme
This year’s theme of Upstream Collaboration | Collaboration en amont is a response to multiple insights of Sustain Ontario members—from across the province—on the challenges of collaboration. While it is widely accepted as the starting position for food movement actors, collaboration is never simple, and often raises unexpected barriers to action. For indigenous actors in the movement, unproblematized assumptions around land tenure, for example, mean that any conversation already has baggage that needs unpacking. Many regional member organizations feel similar frustrations over discussions that start with assumptions that do not reflect their experiences and challenges.
And while, as members, we all share Sustain Ontario’s broad goals of working toward “productive, equitable and sustainable food and farming systems that support the health and wellbeing of all people in Ontario, through collaborative action”, the diversity of membership, and the complexity of the issues that we confront, means that we have to work constantly at transparent communication, respectful discussion and principled compromise in order to make collaboration valuable to all.
This theme serves as a challenge to all Sustain Ontario members to examine their practices, values and commitment to collaborative action that respects diverse approaches and contexts, but allows us to move toward transformative solutions in our food systems.