Real Local RVA’s March 2019 Meeting
with Chris Bennett from the Spark Mill
Sponsored by C&F Bank
What is community? Wikipedia defines it as “A small or large social unit (a group of living things) that has something in common, such as norms, religion, values, or identity. Communities often share a sense of place that is situated in a given geographical area or in virtual space through communication platforms. Durable relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties also define a sense of community. People tend to define those social ties as important to their identity, practice, and roles in social institutions (such as family, home, work, government, society, or humanity at-large).” We believe the key to growing the local food movement in Richmond is building connections within our community.
Our March meeting was an experiment. With the help of our friend Chris Bennett at the Spark Mill, we planned a whole meeting focused around communication, listening and growing a network. The conversations were flowing, the communication channels were open and the room was buzzing. We think it was a successful experiment and our only regret is that we didn’t have more time!
Chris kicked off the meeting with some great insight into the importance of having a strong community, and how a “network” turns into a community when there is better interaction. He discussed three ways to build community when networking…
- Adopt a “give before you get” mentality. Don’t go into encounters based on what you can get out of them. Instead go in with open-ness to how you can contribute. The key is having an abundance mentality; trusting that you will find what you need when you need it. And if we can believe that, we can be fully present in our interactions, focusing on the person in front of us.
- Listen to the last 30 seconds. As it turns out, we humans are pretty bad at listening. Its typical that we miss the last 30 seconds of what someone is saying because we are thinking of our response or what story we can add. As a result we miss the last 30 seconds of what someone says. What if we paid attention to that last 30 seconds and used that active listening to ask great follow-up questions? Imagine how the quality of our interactions would be even better!
- Beware of offering unsolicited advice. We (humans that is) are all about universalizing our experience and giving our lessons learned…before anyone has even asked for it. What if instead of giving the word or advice we think others need, we ask the question – “how can I help you?” Then we allow them to name what they need and then we can appropriately share our stories, lessons, and wisdom in a way that others want and will receive.
- How do we raise the value of locally owned food businesses in RVA?
- As a business owner – what are the greatest challenges to connecting to the local food network in the area?
- What is the greatest success you have had in the last couple months?
- How do you describe the local food movement to people who have never heard of it?
So many different sectors of the local food community were represented. From grocers, to farmers, to distributors, to value added producers, to sustainability organizations, to non-profits. Thank you to all who joined us! We hope we added value to your community. Thank you to UnMoo for the delicious plant based cheese samples and the Cafe @ St. Stephens for the coffee. Want more? Read this article Chris suggested about building entrepreneurial ecosystems.