Our tagline lists “sharing” as an important part of the project. It has meaning when you think about sharing food at the table. In a broader sense, it means to network: connect with others to exchange ideas. This is what I call a support group. The group can be family, friends, or just people with similar interests. How can people benefit by networking with a support group? I’ll give you three examples and you can decide,
Our program, The Family Meals Project, is growing. We piloted six night classes, food bank classes, cook-ins, events, presentations and this website. Which would best complement existing programs? We invited people from a dozen organizations to meet with us to find out. The results were fantastic. Everyone shared ideas and we, as a group,decided that:
- The FMP is important to our community.
- The best way to reach people is to continue the cook-ins.
- Use the website to connect with food delivery programs.
- Use social media more effectively.
- Our meeting was a great way to meet new people.
2. Research Institutions and Companies bring the best minds in the world together to form “think tanks.” The Manhattan Project which developed the Atomic bomb was essentially born in a think tank. Networking is an efficient way to solve a problem. It includes:
- A group working together to share past experiences and define the problem clearly.
- Brainstorming to list ideas and solutions which sparks the mind to create more ideas and solutions.
- A way to throw out some ideas and identify the best ones
3. Cooperative learning was a popular teaching strategy in the early 1990’s. Students were arranged in groups to share information, compare ideas, split the research load, reassemble to compare conclusions. My students were taught to network and used it. But more importantly, they accepted responsibility for the role they played in their group. They worked hard to insure every studentorking together to perform a task. It’s a give and take situation where everyone contributes. There is a lot to be gained when you pool ideas but you do not need to act on new ideas if they do not fit your needs.
The Main Idea
Identify people you can work with and form a support group. Plan meals together, shop and share food, cook together. I trust you will find that networking allows ideas to be shared and cooking will be easier.
Networking Do’s And Don’ts During Discussions
- Understand that everyone’s ideas have value.
- Agree to sometimes disagree.
- Listen to the whole story before reacting.
- Be engaging: Listen more, talk less.
- Give eye contact and a nod when you understand.
- Stick to the topic at hand.
- Don’ts? You know those.
Before the idea of Family Meals Project was created I had experience with the idea of coming together to create food for a group to take home individually to their families. One such time really sticks in my memory. It was a group of teachers who spent one Saturday in the school home-economics room just before Christmas making cookies, fudge and treats together for the holidays. This turned into a yearly event and we shared family histories and how each traditional treat came to be. I learned the family history of colleagues that I had been working with for years. We might never have shared these stories and memories if not for this cookie making event. At the end of the day we each took part of every creation home; boxed ready for our own Christmas tradition. Ardis Rieland