City-Based Food Commons

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On the Commons on 'Homegrown Commons' and the example of Homegrown Minneapolis:

"On the Commons co-director Julie Ristau co-chaired Homegrown Minneapolis, a local food program launched by the City of Minneapolis. In this role, she partnered with the city to create authentic partnerships with citizens and community groups.

This innovative process drew on a commons framework to distill the principles often identified by the community in this process – equity, collaboration, relationships with each other and our food, celebration, cultural distinctiveness, sufficiency, local, and empowerment. The commons framework, along with the kindred frameworks of resiliency and permaculture were also used by Ristau and the Homegrown Minneapolis Implementation Task Force to innovate a new vision and operating guidelines for the newly created Minneapolis Food Council.

This initiative began by researching existing Food Policy Councils across the US. Several reports have pointed out that Food Policy Councils can become bureaucratic, quasi-governmental entities that can dwindle in excitement and momentum. Representative-based membership can diminish efforts for cross-collaboration and stewardship of the whole system.

Meetings often held in downtown locations during daytime hours limits participation. An exclusive focus on policy fails to engage the hearts and minds of the community members who have been growing and creating local food and local economies.

The Homegrown Minneapolis Blueprint describes the approach and thinking involved in creating the Minneapolis Food Council as a commons-based structure. Based on the information and insights gathered, the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council uses a hybrid structure: one that is neither fully owned nor independent of the city, and one that is neither held exclusively by nor without the co-equal investment of the community. Rather, the hybrid structure might best be understood as a footbridge connecting the city and the community into their rightful relationship—one of mutual trust, benefit, and shared vision." (