Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Innovation (M.A.)

Degree Program

School of Community Leadership & Development

First Advisor

Dr. Daniela Marini

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Hoffman

Academic Year



This research delves into the multifaceted realm of food justice within Grand Rapids, MI, exploring collective vision-making processes and their intersection with social innovation and systemic change. Grounded in the concepts of "Freedom Dreams" by Robin D.G. Kelley, the study investigates how envisioning change goes beyond goal-setting, encompassing actions and conversations pivotal to transformative processes. The literature review establishes a strong foundation, emphasizing the historical roots of food justice, integration of abolitionist principles, and the imperative of decolonization within broader social justice frameworks. Central to the inquiry is the role of the Michigan Good Food Charter in leading food systems change and the inclusivity of its vision-making process. Methodologically, the study engaged 15 potential participants, conducting in-depth interviews with 7 leaders from diverse food-related organizations. Through qualitative coding and thematic analysis, three key themes emerged: the inseparable link between social justice and food justice, the imperative for collaborative spaces and efforts, and a visionary outlook towards systemic change in the food system. The results highlight nuanced dynamics in collective vision-making, emphasizing the complexity and richness of perspectives among participants. The conclusion underscores the need for more conducive spaces for conversations, imagining, dreaming, and collaborating, offering valuable insights into fostering a more just and equitable food system.