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The Catalyst: sparking ideas, inspiring action

“Then it was spring; and in spring anything may happen. Absolutely anything.”       ~ E.E. Cummings


Can you see it? In pastel tulips bursting forth from the soil, in tiny seedlings unfurling in their trays? Do you feel it in the warm sunlight falling across bare skin? Have you heard it in the voice of a loved one calling to say, "I'm getting vaccinated!"?

Hope. Renewal. Transformation.


After a year that tried us all like no other, we are reminded yet again that the darkness of winter is always followed by the light of spring. Though we have lost and sacrificed much, we have gained in measure. As millions get vaccinated everyday and we move toward a future when children can be back in school, when communities can come back together in person, when we can simply hug a friend... we must ask ourselves: what learnings of this last year will we carry with us? In what ways, through this change, have we grown wiser? Stronger?

As the world around us quickens into the bright life of spring, the FLSN will bring you many opportunities to continue on your individual path and our collective journey towards transformative change: an interactive series on growing and sustaining impactful networks, workshops on facilitating racial justice for organizational change, calls to build relationship with other Food Systems Leaders.

Spring is the time for planting and growth.
What seeds of intention will you sow this April to reap in the year to come? 

In service and solidarity,
Andrew, Annalina, Elizabeth, Ellie and Susan

Pssst... Poetry inspiration for this month! 




Network News

Featured Opportunities

Featured Organization: Dakota Rural Action Network 
Top Picks

Spring has come to the FLSN and the Network is buzzing with activity. We have several trainings and opportunities to meet members and exchange knowledge coming up - more details below. We also want to thank everyone who submitted an application to work closely with the backbone team as an FSLN Network Weaver. We received over 50 amazing applications, so stay tuned as we introduce the 2021 Weaver cohort in the coming weeks.

Scroll on for programmatic updates, upcoming opportunities, and information about this month's Giving Circle.


FSLN April Meet-Up: April 28th 4-5pm ET 

Are you interested in connecting with fellow FSLN members from around the country and learning more about the different opportunities coming up through the Network?

Join the next FSLN Meet Up to learn about upcoming FSLN programming and application windows, participate in breakout rooms to connect with peers, and learn how to leverage the FSLN’s online platform to support your work. We will highlight ways the FSLN platform can help you find others in your area, share questions on specific topics, and stay up to date with the latest events. We hope to see you there!

Register Here

Institutional Investment Accelerator

The Wallace Center is thrilled to announce the six community-based teams participating in the inaugural cohort of our Institutional Investment Accelerator, made possible through the generous support of the Kresge Foundation. Representing coalitions and collaborative efforts in urban, rural, coastal, and heartland communities, the teams share a common goal of partnering with and seeking investment from institutions to increase community health, wealth, and power.


Centering Equity & Anti-Racism in the Food Movement

A Reflective Conversation Amongst Food Systems Leaders

Listen in on this unedited and reflective dialogue between FSLN Network Weavers and the Wallace Center’s Co-Director, Susan Schempf, exploring why it’s important that the “good food movement” be equitable and anti-racist, and the actions that we – as individuals and as a collective of people – can take to move forward together.
Learn more and listen in here or access the recording as a podcast.

“It’s soul food when I cook it, it’s Southern food when Paula Deen cooks it, it’s comfort food when it shows up on Food Network. It’s all the same food but we racialize who cooks it. If you’re going to tell the story, tell it all. Now is the time for telling the whole story.”
– Network Weaver Lindsey Lunsford reflects on why it’s important to create more equitable food systems.
Listen in!

The FSLN's March Giving Circle: Farm Workers Association of Florida

Each month, the FSLN hosts a "Giving Circle" to amplify the work of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations and causes that are seeking financial support.

In honor of last week's National Farmworkers Awareness week, April's FSLN Giving Circle is focused on supporting an organization that has been at the frontlines of building power among farmworkers since 1983, the Farmworker Association of Florida.

The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) is a statewide, grassroots, community-based non-profit with over 10,000 Haitian, Hispanic and African-American members and five offices in Florida. For over 35 years, FWAF has been working for social and environmental justice with farmer workers across the state to help them gain control over the social, political and environmental justice issues that impact their lives. Read more about FWAF's work here and click here to donate to support their mission to build power among farmworkers and rural low-income communities. 

Two Racial Equity Workshops Available to FSLN Members

We’re excited to partner with the Interaction Institute for Social Change to develop two opportunities for you to operationalize racial equity and anti-racism in your organizations and program work.

  • Facilitating for Racial Justice Work Training – a four-part series for individuals to develop practical skills for guiding others through productive conversations about race, racism, and racial justice that build understanding and agreement. Apply by April 12.

  • Organizational Change for Racial Justice Training – a four-part series for teams of three to four people to advance racial justice within your organization. Applications open at the end of April.

Both trainings are available to FSLN members free of charge. More information and application instructions can be found here.

Network Activation Call: Facilitating Alignment in Networks 

Wednesday, April 21: 4:00 - 5:30pm Eastern

Whether you’re seeking to create a shared vision, align around common goals, or facilitate collaborations amongst network members, ensuring that network members are on the same page can be tough! 

But taking the time and intention to uncover shared values can strengthen the connections between network members, deepen their commitment to and alignment around common goals, and support deeper, more catalytic systems change. 

Join fellow FSLN members to workshop solutions to real-world challenges related to network alignment. 

Register for the Call Here

Calling All Network Alignment Challenges!

Have you been bumping up against challenges while trying to find common ground and create alignment in your network? Are you feeling stuck and in need of fresh perspectives to help you approach your situation differently?  


Become a “case giver” in the upcoming Network Activation Coffee Chat by submitting your challenge here.

The Network Activation Series hosted by the Food Systems Leadership Network is a space to learn with and from peers about strategies and best practices for dealing with some of the common challenges of building and sustaining impactful networks. Attendance at all calls is not required - please join us for one or all calls in the series! Learn more about the series here.

USDA Regional Food Systems Partnership Grant Webinar

Tuesday, April 20th at 3pm EST 

The Regional Food Systems Partnership grant is a new program from USDA meant to fund partnerships and collaboration that increase the impact and viability of regional food systems. The program received a significant increase in funding and a reduction in match requirements through the COVID stimulus bills. That means that 2021 may be an incredible opportunity to leverage this grant to support your work. But since this program is so new, there are still many unknowns. What differentiates this program from other USDA AMS grants? Who should apply? What makes a compelling partnership?

Join Wallace Center, AMS staff, current grantees, and past grant reviewers to dig into these questions to help you and your partners design a competitive RFSP proposal.

Register Here

In this month's Featured Organization piece we speak with Eowyn Corral, Haley Friedt, and Mathew West of Dakota Rural Action. Dakota Rural Action (DRA) organizes people and builds leadership while developing strong allied relationships. DRA protects environmental resources, advocates for resilient agriculture systems, and empowers people to create policy change that strengthens their communities and cultures. 

Read the full feature here!

Top Picks

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge


April 5th marked the start of Food Solutions New England's 7th annual 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge. The Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to expand your knowledge and chart a course of action to dismantle racism in our food system. Throughout the Challenge you will receive daily prompts and have the opportunity to share what you're learning with other participants. It is not too late to get involved! 

Learn more & join the Challenge here!

$76M Available in Value Added Producer Grants

Last month USDA Rural Development announced the availability of at least $76 million in total funding for VAPG projects. The application window to apply is open now and online applications are accepted until April 29, 2021 through, and paper applications must be postmarked by May 4, 2021. Check out this recently published NSAC blog to learn more about the 2021 funding round and check out their VAPG page to learn more about the program.

Resilience Matters E-Book 

Resilience Matters: Reimaging the Future in a Tumultuous Year 2020 was a year like none other. It brought a deadly pandemic, crippling recession, protests against racial injustice, and bitter political division - all against the backdrop of a climate change crisis and its growing impacts.

From the vantage point of these disruptions, the Urban Resilience Project, explored the unjust and unsustainable in our systems and posed visions for alternative, resilient, emerging systems. Check out the full publication here

Mapping out Power Worksheet 

A resource for shifting unbalanced power flows in collaboration - by RoundSky Solutions

We all want humanizing processes and healthy power flows. However all too often, our cooperatives and mission driven organizations unwittingly recreate the destructive power dynamics and uncomfortable situations that we’re trying to replace!

It takes some examining, unlearning, and integrating of new structures to help us create the workspaces that we dream of. Ultimately, we need new ways for power to flow through our teams and organizations. Developing collaborative processes that center humans can help guide us in our work together. Examining power from a shared framework can reveal how we can individually and collectively re-direct harmful, stagnating, and uncomfortable dynamics.

To help you in your journey, check out this awesome free Mapping out Power Worksheet by RoundSky Solutions. 

Echoing Green Podcast

Need a new podcast for April? Check out Echoing Green's podcast On Course - a podcast that explores topics like: why social entrepreneurs do what they do; the connective tissue between their present, past and future work; the struggles, optimism and rewards of working in the social sector; and what it takes to launch and drive movements rooted in social justice. Find episodes on their website, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Podcast: Reframing History

Powered by PolicyLink

Here's another great podcast...Hosted by Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder-in-Residence at PolicyLink, the Radical Imagination podcast focuses on radical solutions to our society’s most pressing problems. It features conversations with thinkers and changemakers from multiple fields working to deliver equity wins at scale. It's not explicitly food-focused, but we hope you'll give it a listen!

CleanMed Conference - Health Care Without Harm 

May 18-20, 2021 

Happening May 18-20, hosted by Health Care Without Harm and Practice GreenHealth, CleanMed Connect is the only virtual experience that connects you with experts and peers at the forefront of health care and sustainability. CleanMed Connect offers a more affordable and flexible CleanMed experience than ever before, breaking down barriers of access, increasing and expanding networking opportunities in new ways.

Check it out at

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Contact us at

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