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Warrior, Builder, Weaver...what are you?

At the third annual Organic Summit, held this week in Stevenson Washington, speaker Steve Stevenson, Senior Scientist Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin, Madison, asked each person in the audience of organic thought leaders whether he or she was a warrior, builder or weaver. This he said reflected on the role they played in the organic and healthy food movement. Ultimately, he said these are activities we engage in not personality types and that for success we need to engage in all of these actions. See what he had to say below and decide for yourself whether you're a Warrior, Builder or Weaver. In case you're wondering, I'm a weaver.

"Warrior, builder, and weaver work are strategic activities aimed at creating social change. These activities are not mutually exclusive. A person or organization may do warrior work today, builder work tomorrow, and weaver work next month. Often these activities are intermingled and complementary, and necessarily so in order to achieve maximum impact. Warrior, builder, and weaver work includes intellectual work that provides the analyses and conceptual bases for each orientation.

Warrior Work (Resistance)

Warrior work contests and challenges the current system or resists attempts to subvert valuable achievements, institutions, or rules. Resistance to confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is an example of the first kind of warrior work, while resisting attempts to subvert the National Organic Rule is an example of the second. While warrior work focuses primarily on the political sector, its goal is to change both political and economic structures as well as the attitudes and beliefs of civil society. While the most visible warrior work employs such high profile tactics as public protests, boycotts, or court cases, other, more “in the trenches” forms of warrior work are equally important, e.g., lobbying and legislative work.

Builder Work (Reconstruction)

Builder work seeks to create alternative approaches and models in the agri-food system. While examples exist in the political sector, such as legislation creating “green payment” farm policies, the majority of builder work in the modern agri-food system occurs in the economic sector through the creation of new food production and distribution enterprises and relationships. Being entrepreneurial rather than political, builder work tends to be less contentious than warrior work. Many people and organizations engaged in builder work do not see their efforts as conscious resistance to the dominant agri-food system. Nonetheless, builder work can be precarious. Starting and sustaining new agri-food businesses can be difficult for a host of reasons.

Weaver Work (Connection)

Weaver work focuses on creating linkages and connections that support change- promoting activities. It develops networks and coalitions among groups engaged in builder and warrior work. Weaver work is performed by a wide range of players, from community-based organizations and grass-roots coalitions, through professional associations, publications and conferences, to collaborations among food system academics and practitioners to explore new concepts and develop research and analysis. Of the three change activities, weaver work is the most explicitly oriented toward social movement building. It focuses largely, but not exclusively, on civil society through outreach and organizing activities.

Weaver work takes on several tactical orientations."

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