Mandy Sunshine (she/her) brings being a positive-discipline practicing mother of three vibrant boys, meditation/yoga facilitation, and a knowledge of Florida’s subtropical coastal ecosystems to the Fellowship. It’s no surprise then, that she enjoys surfing, biking, and playing outside.
She harnesses that positive energy in her community action project, which aims to engage communities in deliberative dialogues to reveal the values of a diversity of participants and encourage the co-creation of solutions by those being impacted by local environmental concerns. Her work as a team member of the University of Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University extension collaborative Community Voices, Informed Choices (CIVIC) is focused on creating a toolkit that can be utilized by extension agents to promote in-depth and inclusive community exploration of challenging natural resource issues, such as land use and water quality, throughout the state.
With some spare time, Mandy would love to visit Cenotes or any place with crystal clear water in which to snorkel.
Read more about Mandy's project in, "Deliberative Dialogue Forums: Effectively Engaging Communities on Challenging Topics," the first post in our blog series, CEE-Change, Together.
Community Deliberative Discussion Forums
Under stress from a rapidly swelling population, the natural resources and social character of communities throughout Florida are threatened. My work with the Community Voices, Informed Choices (CIVIC) team is focused on promoting extension agent-facilitated deliberative dialogue that reveals the values of community members and encourages exploration of solutions by those impacted by local and regional decisions.
In order to prepare agents to create opportunities for communities to engage in a facilitated, value-based, and inclusive discussion, issue guides around the environmental topics of concern about land use throughout Florida or water quality in the Indian River Lagoon of East Central Florida are used as a foundation. Beyond the issue guide, capacity building will come in the form of providing opportunities for CIVIC Team members—composed primarily of extension agents and graduate students at the University of Florida (UF) and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)—to observe, note-take, and eventually co-facilitate deliberative discussions in their communities throughout Florida. These experiences are planned to be held in person, but may need to be moved to an online platform such as Zoom due to safety concerns around Covid-pandemic conditions.
During the nine months of this mini-grant, we will organize and prepare to complete four community deliberative discussion forums. Forums will be convened by agents and/or students in two locations with two forums each. One forum will be in the Indian River Lagoon region, the other on the west coast of Florida. Each forum will be attended by local agents, community members and leaders, and an agent or student from outside the area that will observe, note-take, or co-facilitate at the event.