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City support and longterm maintenance of urban food projects  RSS feed

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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Hi Dr. Fiebrig,

I've been involved in several urban food initiatives and I've noticed that there tends to be a pattern to successful projects - educate people, get community buy-in, create roles/or have people organically gravitate to responsibilities, celebrate accomplishments.

Sometimes this system breaks down. I've noticed it mostly in the long term maintenance of projects. Can you share some ideas that successful long term projects have used to encourage maintenance? I know that in Phoenix where I live, the City government was very hesitant to provide space for community gardens because so many of them became neglected. After several years of advocacy, the City has now relented a bit - but the maintenance issue is very much a concern in urban settings.
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Location: Hilversum, Netherlands, urban, zone 7
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Would love to hear your feedback, though one thing that is part of the general pattern is a strong foundation of personal relationships with committed and charismatic leaders, both within the community and within local government.
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Dear Jennifer,
Yes, I agree with that, maintenance is a general problem and to my experience also one of the reasons that sometimes tends to unfairly give e. g. permaculture a bad name as "hippie´s stuff".

The question is how to organize ongoing work after the initial hype has worn off, isn´t it? I believe either you find someone really engaged in the topic who wants to take the lead and who doesn´t have to work elsewhere full time for money. Otherwise there would have to be at least one person earning an income of some kind from the basic maintenance and through organizing workshops and group events ... otherwise it is not sustainable. Another aspect I have found really important is that as volunteer worker I really want to feel valued where I do the volunteer work. Intrigues, power games and other disrespectful behaviour or enforcement of strict behavioural rules like "no eating meat" (!), "not wearing shoes made of leather" (!) etc. will fend off people interested in working in a community but unwilling to subject to confining behaviour. I have found that there is a fine line between motivating people to live a more sustainable life with joy and downright forcing them in a patronizing way to do certain things, as some eco-warriors tend to do, somethimes also through more sutle straining or factual mobbing. I have been through it all. The latter won´t work for long...

So, I wish we will find good ways to manage such projects long term.

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