Green Tree Canopy

Strengthen the Relationship Network

During the expansion phase, a council moves from governance and structural focus to expanding the reach of the council within the community.

The relationship network includes:

  • Connections within the council – otherwise known as bonding relationships
  • Connections outside the council – otherwise known as bridging relationships
  • Nature of interactions between people

Why strengthen the relationship network?

Food councils are wise to look not only at action and support, but also the strength of their relationships.   Stronger relationships lead to more social capital within a group.  Social capital is one of the most important predictors of success when trying to institutionalize change.

What does this look like?

There are several ways in which a relationship network can be strengthened:

  • Map the relationships between people within the council.
  • Identify where relationships could be stronger.
  • Implement strategies to strengthen connections between council members.
  • Assess how the council works together – looking at its energy, distribution of leadership, and levels of trust.
  • Identify opportunities for improving how the council works together.
  • Implement strategies to improve how the council works together.
  • Create a culture of trust within and across the council.

What else should you consider?

  • Relationship-building takes time.
  • Relationships are between individuals, not groups.  As individual members transition on and off the council, relationships are gained and lost. For this reason, this will be an on-going activity of any council – it never ends.
  • This aspect of food council development is the most important..

Tools & Resources

The following tools and resources are helpful when expanding the relationship network.