R.E.A.L. Common GroundBy: Amanda Dugan, David Stevens (Broaden)
R.E.A.L. starts with regenerative. When we talk about regeneration, we mean more than the regenerative practices that are core to our agricultural work. Rather, it’s the philosophy that motivates these practices – one that emphasizes the belief that if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you – and how it can be applied to other aspects of our lives. We want to understand how communities can build this regenerative mindset in ways that go beyond the relationship between people and the land, and instead ask us to consider and care for the health of all parts of the community – from the environment, to the culture, to the economy, and to the people.
Closely related to this commitment to regeneration is our focus on understanding how communities create equitable, inclusive environments that provide meaningful opportunities to all members of the community. Like the regenerative practices that emphasize a symbiotic relationship between people and the land, we want to understand how communities create more, in terms of opportunities and benefits for their residents, by giving more, through investments and development initiatives. Creating a more equitable system not only ensures that everyone is able to participate – it also helps establish connections that extend beyond physical boundaries, expanding our sense of community to ensure that people have access to the services, supports, and opportunities they need to flourish regardless of their location.
The next element of R.E.A.L. helps us connect our histories with our plans for the future. This part of being R.E.A.L. is aspirational – forward looking, focusing on the younger generations and investing in their success as the future success of the community. The local creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators represent some of the greatest assets of our communities. Understanding the circumstances that allow them to thrive and to contribute to a future that they will help create will be a central part of our work.
On the other side of the “A” is a sense of authenticity – being true to the shared values, traditions, and experiences of the community. But more than just respecting these traditions and histories, we are seeking ways to create space and bridges between our past and our future. To bring traditional agricultural practices into our work alongside innovative initiatives that blend both, creating a balance between where we’ve come from as a community, and chart a path to where we want to be in the future.
Finally, perhaps the most important part of creating something R.E.A.L. is that it is lasting. The impact and benefits of the regenerative, equitable, aspirational projects and initiatives are felt throughout the community. These values and principles begin to shape the structure, systems, and attitudes that we bring towards the challenges we face as a community and, importantly, create opportunities that empower members of the community to play pivotal leadership and advocacy roles. Our hope is that the effects of our efforts today will not only be lasting, but will be expanding as each generation builds on the opportunities and challenges they face today to invest in the next generation of leaders.