A little love for wikis & the Edible Garden Project

I’m working with Emily Jubenvil and the Edible Garden Project team again (contract #8 since 2008 if I’m counting right). This means I am happy, happy in my work.

I’m looking back over past projects, gleaning for patterns we can explore in next week’s storytelling workshop (aka evaluation) and came across this wiki activity. We did it for a 1/2 day planning session with the EGP steering committee in 2010. (A wiki is a webpage you can edit with one click.)

I wrote a cheesy fantasy story introduction- Heather Johnstone (then Coordinator) you the wizard!- and set them loose to write the story of the project.

The sum total of my technical instruction:

“Click on “edit” on the top right of this screen. Move the cursor to where you want to contribute and type. When you’re done (or every 5 minutes just to be safe) click on “Save” (click on edit again, if you want to continue). That’s it- you’ve published to the web!” (Just testing – Liz. Ooh! It works!)

That’s Liz Leboe from the North Shore Recycling Program who totally ran with this. She and the rest of the steering committee shared the history of the EGP before we gathered in the same room. So then together we were able to jump into the deep end…

What’s amazing and gratifying to me is that I’m still mining this clumsy looking story today for key themes in how they work. It’s not that it’s beautiful, it just made it easy to share their thinking.

The themes jumping out at me today from this wiki story:

The EGP partners with municipal government and uses an open public consultation model for public space gardens and farms and for things like introducing bees. No surprises and lots of chances to get involved and shape directions make for a supportive, and participatory community.

They think and work as a coalition. This core coalition still serves as an Advisory Board and they all collaborate together within a broader coalition as part of the Table Matters food policy network. “Tons of “cross-pollination” of program ideas (EGP has amazing, savvy and linked-in coordinators) and shared resources.” Hard not to think of the latest Table Matters accomplishment – a Food Charter, which will guide development of a compatible food policy framework for FIVE municipalities on the North Shore.

They experiment– the staff, hired for enthusiasm and talent, extend the energy and ideas from the community. The orchard, the urban ag grants and more recently, the grain growing (and junkyard wars thresher machine), the BUG blitzes (your lawn transformed into a food garden in one day) are examples.

It’s only this past year they received dedicated funding for education programs in the schools but they found ways to be piloting and trying things out back in 2008 or 9. “Spuds in Tubs partnership – what an amazing program this little spud-nik has turned into! Seniors and children sharing the eventful harvest and having a potato-themed party just is the pinnacle of great community food-growing!”

Growing and sharing food where it’s most needed so people can learn, and enjoy and eat good food. I note the start of this work in housing projects in 2008 and think today of the Inter-generational gardens in every childcare site of the North Shore Neighbourhood House.

On a techy note: I’d tried using google docs with this group before this activity (2008) and there was reluctance to jump in and edit (also no end of password trouble, the bane of so many online collaborative tools.) I think the professional document look and affordances sometimes inhibits professionals from just trying things out.

This wiki ain’t pretty (I resist going in and reformatting, just to make the point it doesn’t have to be) but it extended collaboration online for a non-webby group. BOOM!

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