COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND PARTICIPATORY MODELING OF URBAN FOOD SYSTEMS
Laura Schmitt Olabisi, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
FoodPLUS | Detroit
The partnership between MSU associate professor of community sustainability Laura Schmitt Olabisi and Ms. Renée Wallace of FoodPLUS | Detroit began in 2014 through an established community process for soliciting information on a proposed urban livestock ordinance in Detroit. Their objective was to develop a collaborative vision for and improved understanding of food systems in Detroit. The community partners were key participants in all stages of the project, the collaborative research yielded new insight into the potential to directly affect the design and implementation of the ordinance, and the results demonstrated that rapid growth in livestock keeping could generate negative externalities for the City.
This project has led to additional benefits for both partners. A field school is planned in Detroit for 2019, with the dual goals of training community partners in systems modeling and training modelers in community engagement techniques. The partnership also was a catalyst for a $2 million grant for a four-year project that aims to use community-based participatory modeling to analyze the food system in Flint and catalyze collaborative relationships between the two cities for better understanding of urban food systems.