Researchers and Knowledge Mobilizers Both Know: Food is Important / Les chercheurs et les agents de mobilisation le savent : la bouffe, ça compte

Shawna Reibling, RIR – Laurier
Sometimes when mobilizing knowledge and brokering relationships, it is the environment and soft skills that make for a positive interaction. Knowledge mobilization and brokering can take place over the dinner table. 
Quand il s’agit de mobiliser [s1] les connaissances et de tisser des échanges, il arrive que ce soit l’ambiance et le savoir-être – les compétences relationnelles – qui transforment une rencontre en interaction décisive. La mobilisation et le courtage des connaissances se font aussi autour de la table.
Alison Blay-Palmer“Farmers’ markets sell good quality, fresh food. There is a shorter food chain and consumers know where it’s coming from,” says Alison Blay-Palmer, a local food researchers and co-Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems.
Blay-Palmer is being recognized as one of three finalists for an award recognizing her partnerships with the community. She is working with local farmers, exploring how to improve opportunities for farmers to increase their capacity for making local food sustainable and viable. The award is being offered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The winner will be announced in October in Montreal.
“Food is a social vehicle and it makes connections with people,” Blay-Palmer has commented. This is true both in her research, but also for the work of knowledge mobilization. Having a welcoming space for people wanting to learn about your work includes: comfortable chairs, chairs that work for people with disabilities, food, drink and a good temperature. These are all parts of the “set up” of brokering a relationship between two people, or an information sharing seminar for 20 people.

Picture of vegetables, a farmers market and a goat

These soft-skills and environmental factors of good relationship building are critical to good knowledge mobilization, as well as good facilitation.
What other lessons can we learn from the dinner table that we can apply to knowledge mobilization work?
For more information about Alison’s work please visit: