Last night, we were honored to host a group of extraordinary entrepreneurs working to improve access to healthy food in Atlanta for our Food Innovation Network launch. The network will offer access to all CCI monthly events, a private online social network, and quarterly events speakers, in addition to a monthly email with news, opinions, and opportunities for funding, networking, and learning. The network is made possible through our partnership with Food Well Alliance, whose executive director, Bobbi DeWinter, and staff joined us at the launch.
We kicked off the event with great local food and networking, followed by an overview of the Food Innovation Network. “We want to build a community of problem-solvers,” Rohit said in his opening. “If you show up, we want to make it worth your time.”
The network is structured so that CCI and Food Well Alliance act as facilitators, listening to the needs of entrepreneurs and providing helpful resources and opportunities. “You are important because you understand what’s happening on the ground, you understand what it takes to actually get something done, and all you need is a little bit of resources, help, and support,” Rohit said.
Bobbi followed Rohit with an introduction to the work Food Well Alliance was doing in the Atlanta community. Food Well Alliance, like CCI, is a relatively new organization, founded around the belief that “a strong local food movement has the power to transform metro Atlanta by improving health and nutrition, environmental sustainability, economic development, and community vitality.” Bobbi said Food Well Alliance works to connect people with ideas to tools and resources to help them grow those ideas, which made partnership with CCI a natural next step.
Rohit led the room in some of our favorite unconventional networking activities to help everyone learn more about each other and why they were so passionate about food. Entrepreneurs paired up and answered questions about why they do what they do, with the caveat that the person listening couldn’t talk or ask questions. It was a great reminder of the power of just listening.
The second major activity everyone got a big piece of paper and was instructed to write about their work and their goals. In each of four quadrants, participants wrote what brings them joy, what inspired them, what they need to continue making a difference in their communities, and what they bring to the network.
Check out the word clouds below with everyone’s answers in each of the four quadrants. Responses were wide-ranging, indicative of the awesome diversity of our group. We saw everything from 2Chainz to philosophy to funding to connections, and one piano:
WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CONTINUE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE NETWORK?
It was a great night with awesome people doing important work in our city. We look forward to helping them grow through the Food Innovation Network!