Earlier this year, we posted a series of blogs that highlighted the progress of past EcoDistricts Incubator teams. To kick off the 2016 Incubator application cycle, we’ve checked in with some of the teams from the 2015 Incubator to see what they’ve accomplished in the past seven months.
Victoria, BC Food EcoDistrict
The Food EcoDistrict (FED) encompasses a Victoria, BC neighborhood recognized for its vibrant small businesses and outstanding local food options. The FED’s mission is unique to the foodie-centric city: they are working with 12 restaurants to create urban agriculture projects that beautify the neighborhood and raise awareness about locally-sourced food.
The FED was one of 11 project teams that attended the 2015 EcoDistricts Incubator. One of the most beneficial aspects of the Incubator experience for the team was the opportunity to tour Portland’s regeneration projects, such as the Pearl District and the innovative reuse project on the Industrial Eastside. They heard first-hand from project stakeholders and witnessed the meaningful outcomes that have been achieved in the respective neighborhoods.
As a result of the 2015 Incubator, the primarily volunteer project team has made steady progress.
Although the team had a nonprofit entity and board of directors established prior to the Incubator, the training helped them confirm targets to enhance stakeholder engagement across the neighborhood. Since the Incubator, they have embraced the EcoDistricts governance model and have worked hard to create new relationships.
The team now has a partnership with a local nursery, Le Coteau, which offers discounted plants for garden and parklet projects. They have also cultivated relationships with district stakeholders, such as the Downtown
Victoria Business Association (DVBA). Finally, they are expanding their board to include experts in marketing, sustainable food and urban planning and design.
Neighborhood identities played a significant role in the project tours the FED team experienced in the Incubator, inspiring them to brainstorm branding opportunities for their own community. This past summer, they held a launch party featuring the member restaurants to reveal the FED’s new identity and solidified vision to stakeholders and community members. This year, FED plans to host another neighborhood party, as well as a sustainable food film festival to raise consumer awareness. All funds raised will go directly back into projects.
For the Food EcoDistrict team, the Incubator was a critical next step in their project development process. The facilitator-led on-site group work, inspirational project tours and peer learning with other project teams have all helped propel the Food EcoDistrict toward creating a truly sustainable neighborhood in Victoria.