What’s eating…… MVR?
A Perfect Amuse-Bouche
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) is a famous film story of pure heart, testing the bonds of family, friend- and relationships, and showing the importance of understanding the struggles in life. This blog series is a play on that, allowing HFHP members to share what has been eating their mind, body and soul.
The first couple of blogs will be from Marinke van Riet or in short MVR in her role as HFHP’s new Director, but if you have anything eating you, don’t hesitate, but ventilate. In this month’s blog MVR shares her take on what constitutes a Perfect Amuse-Bouche.
An Amuse-Bouche (or canape or small (and free!) appetiser) is the French term for a small dish served before your main meal starts. A more literal (and somewhat cheeky) translation is a mouth entertainer, in the sense that it is supposed to be titillating your senses and palate – making you hungry for more. It is often a piece of art – a balancing act between simplicity, tastes, beauty and cleverness.
In many ways my first month as Director of Healthy Food, Healthy Planet can be compared to a perfect Amuse-Bouche. Each conversation has been whetting my appetite for more – and was often a balancing act between simply active listening, asking basic questions and digesting new jargon such as plant-based super powers. I have talked to the many funders engaged in HFHP and a wide range of civil society groups and movements – from progressive farmers, health professionals, vegetarians/vegans, to climate change and/or animal welfare activists. The ‘tastes’ within HFHP are incredibly diverse, yet, having set up and led a grant facility on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion I only see strengths in that diversity. The differences should be our teacher as we bring to life and spice up the clever or rather co-created HFHP Strategic Framework, involving over 150 organisations in Europe. That is my key mandate for the first year – no small feat. .
While listening to all of you and reading even more, I have identified some key take-aways (healthy ones I hope):
- Our time is NOW! I clearly heard the passion in your voices, the team work, the collaborations, the challenges but overall also a recognition that the groundswell has been created by and thanks to all of you. The moment is there for us to collectively grab and run with.
- We need to continue to invest in Linking, Learning and may I suggest even in some un-or re-Learning? Everyone we talked to expressed a deep desire to be linked and connected across borders and across their own direct sphere of influence, in order to cross-pollinate. Connecting the Islands of Excellence as I call it to enhance and sharpen our own and collective approach! That linking and learning spirit is embedded in the co-creation approach HFHP has adopted as a core value. It is precisely why the first RfP was called Learning by Doing, setting us apart and providing the glue that binds us.
- Our messages are clever but need to be even cleverer. And the way we communicate those messages also needs to be very strategic. People are looking to HFHP to make those strategic investments which obviously go above and beyond funding. Less and better is a great message but what I have heard from some of you is that it doesn’t yet ‘do the trick fully’. In that sense there is a real opportunity also to cross-pollinate from other movements: can we listen to the #breakfreefromplastic movement to help us find the food equivalent for the complete ban on single use plastic? Or #bancoal in the energy sector?
- Each civil society group I talked to thus far has either set up a movement or network, is part of a movement or coordinating one -whether at local, regional, national and/or international level. This is obviously fantastic, as there is real power in numbers, required for social change. But it does require food for thought…and action on how HFHP is set up, governed and simply moves and shakes. After all, a movement of movements requires an even more nimble and agile approach and a real balancing act in governance, in order to complement rather than replace the existing efforts. Here I need to do some (un-)learning admittedly and I will be actively looking at your support in co-creating e a ‘fit-for-purpose’ set-up where different constituencies can congregate but also cross-pollinate! Maybe as a start my job title should change into chief weaver!
In short, the whole needs to be bigger than the sum of its parts (or ingredients). And isn’t that the Perfect Amuse-Bouche?