sustainability, wicked problems, community, food systems


Agricultural Education | Agriculture


As we have studied the nature of wicked problems and connected with local case studies, our team has come to the conclusion that in order for communities to grow and develop deeper connections, healthier neighborhoods, and happier residents, there must be inclusive dialogue and participatory action. Addressing a neighborhood’s nutritional needs is messy, involving complex social dynamics and disparate stakeholders. Through community connections and dialogic inquiry we have begun to recognize needs related to the local food system. We strive to empower residents to pursue self-directed, neighborhood oriented change. Our team first worked to develop a model of community engagement that can be adapted, copied, and spread to any community setting. The model explained how to conduct inclusive, participatory dialogue that aims to encourage story-telling and camaraderie rather than debate or opposition. Secondly, our team has engaged with several community members over the course of the semester to practice having these dialogic conversations in order to learn, change, and grow as individuals better equipped to understand and progress the dialogue on local food systems. This article synthesizes our findings, describes what we have learned, and offers a model for healthy community conversations that drive locally directed growth.