Developing guiding values
Food Dignity always aimed to be values-based project. In the project proposal in 2010, the principal investigator, Christine Porter, wrote that the project title aimed to convey both a statement of values and a hypothesis.
The ethical stance implied is “that human and community agency in food systems is an end in itself.” Those values would remain right and good even if our project were not to find evidence for the scientific hypothesis, which was “that building civic and institutional capacity to engage in sustainable community food systems for food security will improve the sustainability and equity of our local food systems and economies.”
In May 2011, in Ithaca, New York, about three dozen co-investigators from nine partnering organizations met for the first time to launch the five-year project. Christine shared readings and handouts that shared her values foundations for the project and some minimum ethical and collaboration standards that she expected. Also, everyone received a copy of Thomas King’s 2008 book, The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative.
Three years later, we identified our collaborative guiding values together. We returned to Ithaca in May 2014 for our fifth all-team meeting. Monica Hargraves convened a small working group there to conceive a draft of the values that should guide our individual and collective work in the project.