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My investigation into grassroots organizations working on food security continued with an interview with Ian Marcuse of Grandview Woodland Food Connection (GWFC) in East Vancouver.

Initiated in 2004, Grandview Woodland Food Connection is a neighbourhood organization dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in the Grandview Woodland neighbourhood by promoting an accessible, just and sustainable food system for our community…. read more.

I first met Ian when I was volunteering for the Vancouver Public Space Network as the Community Gardens Coordinator, and I’ve always admired the work that he is doing in his community to engage vulnerable and marginalized people in food issues, and increasing their access to fresh food and growing space. I sat down to chat with him about this, and to learn how we can increase the accessibility and the impact of the EGP programs in our community.

Buen Provecho is one of the GWFC programs that really caught my eye. Latin American elders and youth are coming together to share traditional foods and stories; they’ve created a cook book and wealth of stories on their blog. I love the idea of bringing elders and youth together to share skills and information over food in a causal mentorship setting. Ian reflected that having a connection to the Britannia Community Centre was very helpful in establishing the Buen Provecho program (and many others). The link to the community centre broke down barriers and created opportunities to integrate into existing programing. In the case of Buen Provecho, it started with the Britannia Youth Group and then brought in local elders through the seniors centre. You can check out photos and recipes from the Buen Provecho program on their blog.

A major theme underlying Ian’s work in the community has been relationship building. Although it takes time to reach out to all the other organizations and people working in the neighbourhood, the result has been well worth it because they are what “make things happen”. I found it particularly interesting to see how Ian’s investment in building relationships in the community has supported the GWFC work despite language barriers. Even if posters are written in many different languages, people are hesitant to attend events because they know that the event itself will still be held in English. Connecting and collaborating directly with groups representing or consisting of people that speak another language has been a far better way to reach non-English speaking community members.

Overall, I think that we will work to incorporate what Ian has shared from his experiences with the GWFC by collaborating with a diversity of organizations on the North Shore, and to focus on building relationships to the networks that already exist in our neighbourhoods.