We applaud ZSR response to HB2!

For decades Z. Smith Reynolds has provided inspiration to our the team here atschool_black family with counselor_web Social Profit Strategies with their commitment to the values of fairness, inclusion and equity. For the past two years, ZSR has supported our work with the City of Asheville and communities on the margins that are implementing Circle Forward governance to build leadership and capacity.

We were proud and gratified to read ZSR’s response to HB2, co-authored with the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in the Winston-Salem Journal.  

“Ultimately, we know that communities are built through dialogue and action, not only laws. When we know and understand our neighbors, even if we disagree with them, we are more likely to develop shared approaches to community challenges that will provide mutual benefit. When we recognize the values that we share are far more numerous than those that may divide us, we are more likely to learn from one another and move forward in ways that provide greater opportunity for all.”

We could not agree more!  Thanks to Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for their ongoing leadership and commitment to supporting NC communities in learning and practicing processes and tools that allow the values of fairness, inclusion and equity to be experienced in real life. 

Read the full article here.

Forward-thinking conversations in Appalachian Virginia Food Systems Network

2016-03-18 AVFSN convening
The “seed” of a new network facilitators team met during one of the breakouts at the convening.

Over the past two years some of the most forward-thinking conversations about how to create viable food system networks have been happening within the Appalachian Virginia Food Systems Network (AVFSN).  We are enjoying the afterglow of a great convening on March 18.

Check out the story in the Roanoke News!

Though this reporter called this convening the inaugural event, in fact, Tracy has provided facilitation services for the AVFSN for over 2 years.  Still, there is something accurate about it — this convening was both a harvest and a seed.

The harvest was the Community Food Security Assessment (CFSA) for Appalachian Virginia, a joint project of VA Tech and community nonprofits in the AVFSN.  The CFSA focuses on and parallels the development of the AVFSN.

The seed is the AVFSN launched its next configuration of leadership and structure.

One of the most exciting innovations has been the use of Local Wiki as an information sharing platform for people in food systems work. Here is the link to the AVFSN’s local wiki page.

Kelli Scott, from VA Cooperative Extension and one of the main conveners, wrote Tracy: “I really appreciate your time and participation with today’s convening and throughout the planning process over the past several years. You’ve added so much to our experience in Virginia and across the entire Appalachian Foodshed Project region. You’ve enhanced my (our) learning and I value that process.”

If you think high quality facilitation could move forward the dialogue in your organization or network contact Tracy here.


For more participation & inclusion in meetings, change one thing

Think about how often you have sat in a meeting while a few voices dominated the discussion. You may have had an idea to contribute, but didn’t feel comfortable breaking in. You may not have wanted to risk being embarrassed or dismissed. Or, perhaps you feel perfectly comfortable speaking, but you had hoped to hear from the more quiet members, suspecting they had wisdom to share.

No one person or organization has the whole perspective or can get results alone. Including all perspectives leads to better decisions, more buy-in and fewer unforeseen break-downs in the system.

Rounds: this simple technique can instantly shift a meeting

We began using Rounds a few years ago when facilitating or coaching groups using Circle Forward.  Since then we have heard from lots of people how this simple technique can instantly shift a meeting to become more inclusive, energizing and engaging.   And you don’t need to be leading the meeting to introduce a Round.

It sounds simplistic.  Each person in turn is offered a chance to speak until everyone has had a chance. Anyone is welcomecircle_meeting_couch_600 to pass if they don’t have anything they want to say.

Rounds invite each member to speak in turn.  Rounds physically reinforce that every member has value. They make space for and even encourage more diverse perspectives to be shared.  As the group gets the benefit of tapping the intelligence and creativity of the whole group, they find better solutions.

Rounds tend to foster higher quality input because people have an opportunity to reflect before speaking. And, quieter members, people who process information internally, or those less comfortable speaking in large groups, know when their turn is coming and have time to prepare themselves

Are Rounds efficient?

Experience has shown us that rounds are among the most efficient ways for the group to come to understand the way forward together.  At first, it may seem like it takes a lot of time to get input from the whole circle. It may be hard for people who are used to taking the floor and talking, instead to wait their turn in a round.  Some people worry that ideas or creativity will be lost if they cannot banter back and forth and build on each other’s ideas immediately.

Rounds teach people how to listen to each other.

Hearing from each person one at a time can be more efficient for understanding the “group mind” on an issue than hearing from some people multiple times and others never. And, people have the opportunity to pass if they feel like their perspective has already been expressed.

We’ve also seen rounds be a great tool for creativity.

The best ideas grow and build on each other in rounds. Having time to reflect before speaking culls out reactive speech an allows more thoughtful input. We see people express more risky ideas if they know that they will not immediately be drawn into debate.

In our FREE guide, Rounds: a simple technique for more engaging meetings, we give you several types of rounds you can introduce, even if you’re not leading the meeting.

Get your free guide here to quickly learn more about the benefits of using Rounds as well as how and when Rounds work best.


(VIDE0) Designing Inclusion in our Food Systems – Tracy’s presentation at PechaKucha Asheville

The Art of Science was  the theme for PechaKucha Asheville, in July. Here at Social Profit Strategies, we were all honored and delighted when the organizers invited our own Tracy Kunkler to participate!

A number of our clients are working passionately to build healthy, vibrant local food systems that everyone can access.

How do we get representation from all the different parts of this complex system – from local farmers to universities, from food banks to feed & seed stores, from city councils to tailgate markets —  into planning and policy-making that is both inclusive and efficient?

In this 6 minute 40 second presentation Tracy shares how the Appalachian Foodshed Project, a multi-state initiative, and the Residents Council in Asheville’s public housing neighborhoods, are both using  Circle Forward to give people in all parts of this complex system a voice in decision-making.

To change something as complex as a local food system, we need all the different parts of the system participating in planning and policy-making.

The sheer numbers and variety of people that are now involved in re-designing our local food systems reveals the complexity that exists as we seek to steer toward the food systems we want and value. Government, nonprofit, for-profit, faith-based organizations, and people who have been traditionally marginalized, all need to be at the table.

Most of the tools we’ve used in the past are insufficient to meet that complexity.

Because Circle Forward is designed to mimic patterns in healthy, natural systems, it offers an organizational structure that could support inclusive and effective self-governance, to steer toward the kind of food system we want.

Click here to discover the Power of Positive Governance for

  • Collective Impact
  • Cooperatives
  • Networks and alliances
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Social enterprise businesses




Pechakucha literally translates to “chit-chat” in Japanese and the format — 20 slides x 20 seconds each — provides a unique idea-sharing experience that often inspires audiences to stand up and applaud. To watch all all of the PechaKucha Asheville presentations visit PechaKuchaAvl.org


(VIDEO) The Power of Positive Governance is here!

This week we are celebrating!!

We are thrilled to be able to bring Circle Forward to many, many more people who are seeking fundamental change in how they work together.

Until now, we were limited in our capacity to bring the transformative power of positive governance to all the people who were seeking it.   Before this week, if someone wanted learn how to  transform their work culture by using elements of Circle Forward we would have had to schedule a live training before we could even begin supporting the group in using the system.

No doubt, even with that limited capacity we’ve accomplished some great things with groups doing transformational work.  We’re tremendously proud of them and us!  But now, many more people can access the training because…(drum roll, please!)…

Circle Forward training is online!

We’ve broken down the Circle Forward governance principles and tools into accessible, manageable packages your organization can implement at your own pace.  Training packages include online videos, interactive exercises, downloadable tool-kits and access to the Circle Forward Forum, all of which team members can view at their own convenience.  An experienced coach will guide you in applying the new framework to your organization’s unique context.

There are no “10 easy steps” to becoming effective, collaborative and prosperous. Good governance takes disciplined effort plus a willingness to learn continuously and teach others.  But positive governance just got a lot more accessible to a lot more people!

Click here to access to the FREE introductory package, What is Governance and Why Does It Matter.