sustainability, literacy, wicked problems, grand rapids, Michigan, community, education


Agricultural Education | Agriculture


Recognizing the dimensions and complexity of wicked problems, Phoenix Farms has decided to address the issue of sustainable illiteracy in Western Michigan. With a goal to work with local stakeholders, we have partnered with Sonder Farms in order to develop advertisements and classes aimed to raise awareness about, and interest in, sustainability. This partnership with Sonder Farms, a self-sustaining farm located in the Grand Rapids and Allendale communities, has given us the opportunity to put our skills, knowledge, and values to use in our local community. Sonder Farms practices conventional farming as well as aquaponics. Their hope is to target the community by countering issues such as environmental injustice, sustainable illiteracy, economics, education, health, and much more. They plan to offer classes to the community, covering subjects such as diet/nutrition, the environment, finances, sustainable agriculture and many more. Seeking to develop ideas of mutual benefit, we worked closely with Sonder Farms in order to co-create and implement compelling and relevant action-plans. For instance, we have developed promotional materials illustrating the dimensions of sustainable illiteracy, highlighting Sonder Farms mission, and detailing the research we have conducted about downtown Grand Rapids residents. We have sought to make sustainability education accessible in the greater Grand Rapids area along four dimensions, including (1) posters (2) guerrilla advertisements, (3) the development of monthly newsletters, and (4) a plan for increasing the accessibility of Sonder Farm classes. The following describes our ultimate efforts, the process by which we came to this work, and the challenges we confronted. Through detailing our work, we hope to engage people who are enthusiastic about environmental justice, thereby increasing the chances these efforts will lead to systemic, long-term change.