Roots of Big Old Tree

Create Support Systems

During the growth phase, a council develops its capacity in many areas, such as:

  • Communications
  • Resources
  • Leadership
  • Understanding of the community’s food issues

Why create support systems?

Support systems ensure the council can continue taking action over time. Without adequate support systems, a council can burn out.  Or it can fracture into disparate groups, without the benefit of coordination.

Support systems are not about controlling, but rather, enabling. For example:

  • Enable people to discuss and find others interested in similar things
  • Encourage people to spend time developing relationships and building trust
  • Setting aside time for reflection – to learn about what seems to be working
  • Finding ways to need less money; identifying resources that are already available
  • Providing training, coaching, and learning communities to build skills

How do you create support systems?

Form a support committee which will be responsible for developing, implementing, evaluating, and maintaining systems for:

  • communication – within the council / network (not external communications, which may be a specific council function)
  • interaction
  • resource flow
  • training and support
  • strategy development

What else should you consider?

Consider using a network approach, such as that in Network Weaver Handbook, to create agile systems.  Given that most people are volunteers, all council work has to be manageable and energizing.   Creating a top-heavy set of systems will not be supportive.  The focus should be on supporting, not driving or dictating.  Creating light-weight systems is essential for long-term sustainability.


Tools & Resources

The following tools and resources are helpful in getting educated about support systems.