Working Agreements

  • Arrive, begin and adjourn on time.

  • One speaker at a time.

  • Use “I” statements.

  • Listen deeply

  • Honor those voices who have not had a chance to speak in the past.

  • Stick to the tasks and topics on the agreed-upon agenda.

  • Listen attentively.

  • Share the floor / Step up, step back / Make space, take space

  • Keep it here; honor any confidentiality agreements.

  • It is OK to disagree...please do so respectfully.

  • Decide together, we don’t have to always agree

  • Create space for open networking and conversations.

  • Expect & accept a lack of closure

  • Please turn off or silence your phone

  • Permission to speak in 1st draft; assume best intent, attend to impact

  • Use “Oops” & “Ouch”

  • Be willing to be uncomfortable; Take care of yourself and each other

Working Assumptions

This work is messy. We will make mistakes and feel upset. The healing process is painful.

To acknowledge food systems work, the history of racism and oppression within our food system must be acknowledged, especially by those who continue to reap from its benefits. Racism has deep roots in our food system from the genocide of indigenous peoples and the colonization of indigenous land to the institution of slavery that brutalized black individuals and families. The United States food system has always depended on what Schlosser (2014) has described as “the search for a new peasantry” and “new groups to exploit” made evident from the immigration of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino laborers in the late 1800s to the bracero program started in 1942 that exploited Mexican laborers. Farm owners continue to be privileged over farmworkers, who are majority people of color, within systems of modern slavery that take advantage of immigration policy.

Classism additionally permeates food systems work and often intersects with racism to create different forms of oppression. Our work with low-resource individuals and families in Watauga County should center on the values of dignity and choice and be based on inclusivity instead of assumption-making. Although we wish to uplift and further the local food economy, this should be done without placing guilt or shame on those who are unable to ‘vote with their fork’ or choose to eat in a more sustainable and/or healthy way. To create a more sustainable, viable, and equitable food system, we must work to be truly inclusive of those impacted by class and all intersections of oppression.

As a council we should also recognize the transient nature of many individuals residing in Watauga brought here by the university and other community opportunities, and how this can conflict with individuals who have lived in this region for generations. The rapid growth seen in Watauga and the prioritization of Boone over more rural areas for services, in addition to gentrification around university areas must be considered when doing food systems work in this area.

Our identities advantage and disadvantage us differently. Through acknowledgement of how privilege and oppression impact ourselves and others within our food system, we can create space to work together for liberation-- to heal ourselves, our relationships, and our community.

Working Definitions


An injustice experienced by social groups that functions as an aspect of daily social life that includes both individual and systemic acts.


“A specious classification of human beings created by Europeans during a period of worldwide colonial expansion, using themselves as the model for humanity, for the purpose of assigning and maintaining white skin access to power and privilege.” (Dr. Maulana Karenga)

“A socially constructed way of grouping people, based on skin color and other apparent physical differences, which has no genetic or scientific basis. The concept of race was created and used to justify social and economic oppression of blacks and other people of color by whites. A political construction created to concentrate power with white people and legitimize dominance over non-white people.” (Interaction Institute for Social Change)


Racism is discrimination/prejudice + power. Racism is systemic and operates on internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels to advantage white people and therefore disadvantage people of color.

A form of oppression based on the socially constructed concept of race* exercised by the dominant racial group (whites) over non-dominant racial groups. Operates on internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels. (Adapted from the Interaction Institute for Social Change)

Racial Justice

The creation and proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment and outcomes for all people, regardless of race. (Applied Research Center)

Racial Equity

The condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. (Center for Assessment & Policy Development)


Coined by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, intersectionality refers to the idea that social groups need not be homogenous with rigid categories, but can comprise of different identities from a multitude of experiences. For example, the sexism that a black woman experiences will be different from what a white woman experiences due to the intersection of race and gender.

Food Justice

According to Just Food (2010), food justice is “communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat [food that is] fresh, nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals.”

Food Justice Movement

According to Cultivating Food Journey: Race, Class and Sustainability (2011) “the food justice movement combines the analysis of racial and economic injustice with practical support for environmentally sustainable alternatives that can provide economic empowerment and access to environmental benefits in modern-life communities. Its race- and class-conscious analysis expands that of the food movement to include not only ecological sustainability but also social justice.”

Food Sovereignty

According to La Via Campesina (2017), Food Sovereignty “is based on the human right to food, free determination, indigenous based rights to territory and the rights of people to produce food for their subsistence and for local and national markets.”sovereignty

How to Use this Document

Working Agreements: Laminated copies at every meeting.

Working Definitions: This steers our work. Listed on our website. Potential topic for community meeting.

Things to add: Resources — people to reach out to, books, websites etc.