NEFOC Network Monthly Co-Coordinator Update: April 2019

Spring greetings NEFOC fam!

We’ve had a busy and fruitful month- let’s take a moment to take stock and celebrate!

Big Picture Celebrations:

This month past we received notice of two new Reparations Map successes!

Both successes haven’t given permission (yet) to celebrating publicly, but we can say that both are medicine helpers and herbalists who work with healing our people through their relationship to medicines on the land they steward and educate on. Both herbalists are using the reparations funding to support their herbal schools, specifically supporting capacity building and to expand their BIPOC scholarships! May your work manifest greater form and deliver the sweetest fruit!

If you’d like to celebrate your own reparations success, please be in touch with us. If you’d like to be added to the map, please reach out to either Stephanie or Çaca via this application to be entered on the map.

Gathering Our Minds as One

Steph, Cai, Inara, Çaca, Maricella, and Carmen at the Farm School!

Steph, Cai, Inara, Çaca, Maricella, and Carmen at the Farm School!

In the later end of our work month your co-coordinators held a retreat/farm visit on lands traditionally stewarded by the Nipmuc, at the Farm School. We focused on honoring the land and visiting our NEFOC Interim Council member Carmen Mouzon. We leaned into strategic planning and summing up what we’ve learned over the past 4 months- to listen to the Indigenous communities we’re building relationships with so that we can build a strong foundation; to uplift and connect with the NEFOC Network and our Vision; to allow space for productive pushback and time to enable the governance process to solidify; and to tease out the “Resources” we’ve identified in the organization (where people, land, spirit, money, time, morale, joy, and safety intersect). As the 2 year incubation period calls for, we’re prioritizing the building and healing of relationships with Indigenous Communities of the Northeast as we move forward as an organization- so that as our land trust develops we step into each new phase in right relationship with the land and those who have and continue to steward it.

Landtrust Alliance

Stephanie offering acknowledgement to the overlapping territories of the Mohican, Abenaki, and Kanienkehaka.

Stephanie offering acknowledgement to the overlapping territories of the Mohican, Abenaki, and Kanienkehaka.

Stephanie joined Leah Penniman (Soul Fire Farm) to offer a co-keynote address at the NY Land Conservation Conference where we made new allied and sibling organization connections, shared NEFOC’s Vision and strategies, and connected with funders who believe in the decisive and careful development of this work.

The Nitty Gritty:

Council Jazz

We wish to uplift and celebrate the first proposal voting! An event that secured three extra months added to the interim council’s term of service. Now, that the council has adopted a protocol for decision making the next steps to be taken over the next 5 months are to solidify the language for the Bylaws, secure counsel on Articles of Incorporation, and determine the Board Governance structure.

Based on 31 member votes and using the supermajority voting structure of 80% of those voting that NEFOC members previously decided (via a ballot in January) should be used for Council votes, the vote is to extend the Council's term by 3 months, until mid-October. See below for more detail.

  • 31 total NEFOC members voted

  • Of these, 25 members voted "Yes, I agree to a 3 month extension."

  • Other responses included:

    • "I think 3 months is acceptable, but I would not support going beyond that." (1 member)

    • "6 month extension" (1 member)

    • "I'm not sure, I don't know how it's been going" (1 member)

    • "I agree to the extension and I suggest having one or two people rotate in/out in order to give some dynamic community input to the process." (1 member)

    • "i can't agree or disagree without knowing more about how the council is working..." (1 member)

    • "I agree to the 3 month extension but do not agree to anything beyond that." (1 member)

April 2019Council Extension Vote Results Image.png

Legal Readings

Rest assured the legalities are real! We have been in conversations with U Michigan and Conservation Law Foundation this past month and are anticipating a Council training by Harvard Transactional Law Clinic sometime soon. We continue to refer to Clark Arrington’s original work and are eager to move forward with formalizing By-laws and Articles now that our Council has a container set in place for decision making. We have pulled together a quick list of suggested reading material for all interested in thinking critically and practically about the legalities of this work alongside us. As we work to finalize and annotate the list, we’d love to hear from you regarding your additions to the list!

  1. A Guide for Land Trusts on Conserving Nature in the Face of Climate Change (2016) (Open Space Institute)

  2. How To Abolish Land Speculation (1974) (Schumacher Center for New Economics)

  3. The Forest Land Trust Program (1978) (Schumacher Center for New Economics)

  4. Easement Revitalization: A Problem Solving Guide for Land Trusts (2013) (Open Space Institute)

  5. Free Guide Takes Guesswork out of Hiring for Rhode Island Farmers (2019) (Conservation Law Foundation)

  6. Betrayal at the USDA (2018) (Union of Concerned Scientists)

Network Planning

The results are in! (See Survey info below) Thanks to all who participated! At the moment it looks like out top candidates for hosting one of our 2019 gatherings are the Farm School and Soul Fire Farm. Someone kindly offered to host a NEFOC Network Gathering in 2020 in Puerto Rico- we welcome thoughts on that! Depending on schedules, we’re hoping to plan a Network Gathering for mid-August 2019, just in time to share first harvests.

Of the 31 NEFOC members who responded, 29 of you noted that you would attend a NEFOC in-person gathering this Spring/Summer, provided that the dates work for you. A few members offered spaces to host the next gathering. Thank you also for the descriptions of anticipated barriers to attending the network gathering. Transportation and timing were named as key considerations. In more detail, the barriers named included: 

  • Transportation to the gathering, including transportation costs. It was suggested to host the gathering near public transportation and/or coordinate an extensive rideshare.

  • Timing during the farm season

  • Childcare

  • Lack of available lodging and/or lodging costs incurred if traveling from farther away

  • Lack of advance notice in scheduling

  • Day of the week for scheduling, considering sometimes conflicting differences in work schedules (weekdays, weekends, etc.)

Allied Sibling Org Connections

Shout outs to the NE Queer Farmers Alliance, Agrarian Trust- Agrarian Commons Committee, Buffalo Food Equity Network, and Kingston Land Trust for interacting, digesting wisdom, and sharing in the great work with us all.

Resource Development

Building this organization into a fiscally independent entity during the first two years of our tenure is a responsibility we take very seriously. Good Resource Development takes time, patience, and a solid organizational foundation. We see resources as more than just donor development and funding. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve been cultivating relationships with donors (both financial and land-based) and are excited at the prospects set before us. As we confirm donations and grants we will share these out in celebration. We also see some of NEFOC’s biggest and most effective resources as morale, time, energy, and commitment. A big shout out to everyone (again) on our council who has stepped up to give their time and energy to helping build our governance structure and moving into the heavy lifting of developing By-laws and Articles of Incorporation.

As we move forward we will be reaching out more to connect with the NEFOC Network- to continue farm visits, to connect with your communities, to listen and engage, and to celebrate this work. If you’d like us to visit your farm, want to talk about your desires and dreams, are experiencing barriers, have networking connections, or just want to talk- be in touch!

NEFOC Website