Monday, October 15 , 2018, 6:54 am | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 
Good for Santa Barbara

Social-Sector Leaders Collaborate to Create Food Action Plan for Santa Barbara County

Unsatisfied with status quo, network of not-for-profit officials unites behind new strategy to tackle hunger and more

The Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan, which aims to bring a healthy, sustainable food system to the community, is also notable for the multiorganizatiion collaboration that went into its development and implementation. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan, which aims to bring a healthy, sustainable food system to the community, is also notable for the multiorganizatiion collaboration that went into its development and implementation. (Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan photo)

The Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan is notable not only for its commitment to bring a healthy, sustainable food system to the community but also for the manner in which the program was conceived. It’s an example of what can happen when thought leaders are connected and collaborating.

This is a core concept of Leading from Within, a local nonprofit organization that has connected 300 social-sector leaders since its inception eight years ago, advancing leadership and effecting measurable change in the community.

              |  Good for Santa Barbara  |  Complete Series Index  |

“Amazing ideas can form when people are brought together who know each other and trust each other,” said Sigrid Wright, CEO of the Community Environmental Council and one of the masterminds behind the Food Action Plan.

Wright credits her experiences at Leading from Within as instrumental in the development of a countywide program that aims to establish an accessible, sustainable, healthy food system that benefits residents, the economy and the environment.

Wright is a graduate of Leading from Within’s first Courage to Lead cohort class, having completed the year-long leadership and renewal program eight years ago.

After graduating, she chaired the organization’s alumni network, which is where she met Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. Talkin participated in the 2011 Courage to Lead cohort class, along with Barbara Andersen, previous director of strategic partnerships at the Orfalea Foundation and now chief strategist officer at the Santa Barbara Foundation.

This trifecta would prove critical to the formation of the Food Action Plan.

“The CEC was already exploring the impact of climate change on growing and transporting food when Erik approached me with the challenge of working together to find more effective solutions for allocating food to benefit individuals and the environment,” Wright explained.

A critical mass of leaders who shared the same mission quickly formed and included Andersen and Sharyn Main, director of community investments at the Santa Barbara Foundation. Main is also spearheading her organization’s LEAF (Landscapes, Ecosystems, Agriculture and Food) initiative, whose mission closely aligns with the Food Action Plan.

“Leading from Within provides a different framework for people to work together,” Talkin said.

Typically, the challenge of collective impact work is that various organizations are vying for limited funds, creating competition, not cohesion.

“The Leading from Within model is distinct in that it brings leaders together for the greater good of the community,” Talkin said. “There’s an inherent trust and shared work ethic among Leading from Within alumni.”

Talkin admits there’s no magic formula.

“This also happened to be the right people at the right time who are emotionally invested and passionate about the cause,” he said. “Leading from Within gave us the opportunity to bring a wide variety of people together, which creates considerable possibility.”

Talkin has demonstrated his commitment to Leading From Within by sending most of his senior staff through the Courage to Lead program, and encouraging all of his staff to apply to the Emerging Leaders program.

“To have this type of network available to nonprofit leaders in Santa Barbara is extremely valuable to our entire community,” he said.

“It’s an unusual model to have nonprofits and funders tackling a project together,” Wright conceded. “Many of us had been through the Courage to Lead or Emerging Leaders programs where we formed a trust that enabled us to work together.”

Andersen also emphasized the trust factor.

“The Courage to Lead program breaks down the barriers between funder and grantee, by creating an honest, safe space to interact,” she explained.

“There’s very powerful trust building that happens at Courage to Lead, and participants protect that space outside the circle as well, allowing leaders to have even more honesty and transparency, ultimately benefiting the communities we serve.”

Ken Saxon, president of Leading from Within, takes a long view.

“Our community benefits when our leaders are connected,” he said.

Saxon’s organization was created to support, train and bring social sector leaders together, not only for their personal gain but to increase their capacity to be collaborators for the common good.

These few organizations were not the only collaborators. Wright estimates a total of 1,900 volunteer hours went into developing the Food Action Plan, and input from 200 community stakeholders across the county was incorporated in the strategic plan.

“Look how we create a thinking network of people,” she said. “The (LFW) program trusts that by bringing emerging leaders together, without friction or competition, that great things can happen.”

Saxon agreed.

“There is so much power in partnerships,” he said. “Imagine what other community issues local leaders could tackle together with this kind of trusted foundation.”

              |  Good for Santa Barbara  |  Complete Series Index  |

— Ann Pieramici is a public relations consultant and freelance writer. She currently handles public relations efforts for a number of Santa Barbara-area nonprofit organizations.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >