Name that council!
August 15, 2018 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I have taken on a year long project as an Americorps VISTA. My goal is to create a food policy council/coalition. What should its name be? More inside.

For those who don't know, a food policy council is a group with people from the government, non-profits, farmers, producers and vendors who all work to resolve common issues in a local food system. They may work to create more business opportunity for small farmers and producers. They may work to bring local produce to food deserts. They might work on networking and infrastructure in their area. They might work on zoning issues that make it hard to support urban farms. It can be a lot of different things. Ideally, it's all of those things.

So I live in Erie, PA. My job is to take people already doing good work in Erie and get them all to talk and work together. Specifically, my job is to get people to work toward resolving food deserts. I have a group of thirty or so interested people but it's really early days. We're trying to figure out what our priorities are and how to go about them. I am trying to network and get people together. The first thing they do is Google me and food councils, and there is nothing about a food council in Erie. I think this is hurting my cause. I also think it would be good for our burgeoning identity for us to have an actual name.

So my next meeting with this group is next week and I want to offer good ideas for a group name. Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC) is really common. In previous meetings they liked the idea of a name using the acronym LOCAL or FARM, but none of the names were actually that good. I like GROW but it's the same problem. It can also be a normal organization name. I'm a collaborator, not a creative. Can any Mefites help come up with something snappier?

Extra Erie info-
Local areas include Erie, Edinboro, Girard, Northeast, Fairview and Millcreek. We are located in NW PA. One of our main crops is grapes. We have a lot of beer and wine microbreweries. We have an excellent park/beach called Presque Isle. The middle of Erie has a neighborhood that is being rehabbed called Federal Hill. Our main streets are State, Peach and French. And 12th. Our local weird foods are pepperoni balls and sponge candy.

Please help.
posted by Bistyfrass to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
The group like this in my area is called [Region] Food System Network. I like that it can encompass a lot of different kinds of work (policy, advocacy, education...) and that it puts focus on the fact that food production involves complex systems.

I'm opposed to snappy acronyms because no one can remember the actual name of the group, and even if they can the name is usually not that helpful in figuring out what they actually do.
posted by momus_window at 11:45 AM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

(Also, I was an Americorps VISTA for a statewide food bank many years ago. I hope your year of service is great!)
posted by momus_window at 11:50 AM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I worked on local food issues in the Detroit area for a couple of years and found it very rewarding! If I were you, I'd keep it simple, yet also emphasize that you're building a community. Something like "Erie Food Network" is wonderfully straightforward (or Erie Food Collaborative, or Erie Food Community... you pick the collective noun). Regardless of which way you go, I think the wording choice can be a good signal for other groups that you're being inclusive. If I learned one lesson from my work in Detroit, it was to listen at least as much as I talked. There were already so many good organizations and leaders doing amazing work. It was important to find my role as a connector between these and not to show up as someone trying to reinvent the local movement. It took a while to build trust and to show that my org was trying help support ongoing efforts, not supplant them.
posted by hessie at 11:54 AM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I love Collaborative! That seems really promising. Thank you! Keep them coming!
posted by Bistyfrass at 12:07 PM on August 15, 2018

Erie All Together Food Council (E.A.T. Food Council) (or the a could be "Area")
Erie Food Union
Feed Our Region Council (FORC = "Fork") (or the c could be collaborative, etc.)
Council for a Healthy Erie through Food Security (CHEFS) (or through could be "and")
Council to Help Erie's Food System (CHEFS)
posted by carmicha at 1:14 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Food and Agriculture Council of Erie, FACE
Collaborative Agricultural Network of Erie, CANE
Erie GRAIN - Erie Greater Region Agricultural Investment Network

Erie Agricultural Development Network
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:22 PM on August 15, 2018

NW Pa. Food and Farm Network
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:45 PM on August 15, 2018

The basics of nonprofit naming are

#1. Place or location, together with
#2. Straightforward words saying what you are or do

Regarding location: It only needs to be comprehensible to people in your own area, so no need for "Erie Pennsylvania USA North America Planet Earth Solar System etc Food Network" - just "Erie Food Network" would do.

Unless your activities are restricted to the actual city of Erie, I would give some thought about whether calling it Erie [Food Whatever] is a good idea. Are people in the town you're working with 20 or 30 miles from Erie going to be happy about that? Maybe Erie Area [Food Whatever] or Greater Erie Area [Food Whatever] or Northwest Pennsylvania [Food Whatever] or Erie County [Food Whatever], or that type of thing.

Regardless, make sure that everyone you want to have included in your area description is included, and no one is inadvertently excluded.

Regarding "Straightforward words saying what you are or do": Better to be simple and straightforward than tricky and obtuse. A person seeing the name of your organization should instantly know what it is and what it does without further explanation.

Avoid meaningless acronyms like the plague. Don't use them and don't let anyone else use them to refer to the organization. I mean acronyms like EFPAC, that are completely meaningless in themselves. They're just alphabet soup. You want the name you routinely use to be meaningful and to say (both internally and externally) what you do.

If you want to have a short name, come up with one like FeedErie or ErieFarms or GrowErie or whatever that actually says what the organization is right in the name. These don't need to be an acronym per se and if no convenient acronym presents itself don't try to force one.

This can be both the short name you use to refer to the organization and also serve for things like the web site name, twitter handle, etc.

If you come up with a short name like FeedErie, then you could make a little logo and tagline etc that includes both that and a slightly longer explanatory name like:

FeedErie - the Greater Erie Regional Food System Network

The logo would be "FeedErie" in large happy letters with "Greater Erie Regional Food System Network" in small letters underneath and other logo elements like a giant stalk of wheat, some happy farmland, happy people eating delicious food, or whatever arranged around them artistically, as logo designers do.
posted by flug at 3:57 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I like where all of this is going. The acronyms are what the rest of the group settled on, and I was given the task of picking a few of theirs and a few of mine and having a vote. I will recommend simple and clear. I am still partial to Grow. It's food based, but as we want to work to support community I think it's more open ended. I think Farm is too specific. Thank you guys, you've given me a lot to think about! I am still open to be more suggestions if anyone else wants to chime in.
posted by Bistyfrass at 4:38 PM on August 15, 2018

Gather NWPA: A Local Food Systems Network
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:51 PM on August 15, 2018

We did a group like this in NH and called it the [Area] Food Solutions Network.
posted by Miko at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2018

What about something like 814 Food Policy Council or something like that?

I don't know if Erie has the same affinity for its local telephone area code as Pittsburgh does (and if you're covering a wide enough area this might not be the best option anyway) but there's a place in Pittsburgh called 412 Food Rescue that picks up surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away from restaurants and grocery stores and delivers it to food banks or shelters, and it seems like people are pretty fond of the name.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

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