Lessons for Network Leadership and Practice: Insights from a Five-year Study of the Savory Global Network


  • Lee Frankel-Goldwater University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Abbey Kingdon-Smith Savory Institute


networks, food systems, regenerative agriculture, leadership studies


This article summarizes findings from a five-year research partnership between University of Colorado Boulder researchers and the Savory Global Network team. Here we highlight five key lessons and themes for network leadership and practice identified through our study of the Savory Global Network activities. These lessons and themes are:

  1. Networks can help create a ‘Sense of Belonging’ and ‘Not Being Alone’ while supporting a process of transformative change.
  2. Developing a ‘Shared Language and Identity’ can support connection-building and navigating conflict.
  3. Building a ‘Community of Practice’ across a global network can help to support collective action and connections among participants.
  4. Developing ‘New Supply Chains’ for ‘Economic Revitalization’ can be a powerful driver for network participation.
  5. Creating ‘Place-specific Regional Networks’ as part of a larger action network is a relatively untapped pathway for wide-scale change.

In conducting this study, we used multi-event ethnography to support data collection through attendance at dozens of Savory Global Network events. For the analysis and to help us develop our findings, we used qualitative coding and a community-based research approach. Through this work, we offer suggestions for network researchers and practitioners to improve their capacity to study and foster transformative change through their research and program efforts.

Author Biographies

Lee Frankel-Goldwater, University of Colorado, Boulder

Lee Frankel-Goldwater is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder studying food systems, sustainability transitions, and environmental education. Lee has been the primary field researcher for the CU-Savory research partnership and will continue on as an advisor to the Savory Institute and Global Network following the completion of his PhD. Lee is also a social innovator and works on a variety of initiatives focused on sustainability education and peace-building communities of practice.

Abbey Kingdon-Smith, Savory Institute

Abbey Kingdon-Smith is the Savory Global Network Coordinator for the Savory Institute, as well as a hub leader with UVE, the Savory Hub serving the Intermountain West Coast region of the United States. She is passionate about helping families, communities and tribes develop and use a holistic context to live abundant and meaningful lives in harmony with each other and the planet. As the mother of two children, building a beautiful world for her (and all) children is part of her personal holistic context, and thus why she teaches Holistic Management, and manages her life holistically.




How to Cite

Frankel-Goldwater, L., & Kingdon-Smith, A. (2022). Lessons for Network Leadership and Practice: Insights from a Five-year Study of the Savory Global Network. Social Innovations Journal, 15(5). Retrieved from https://socialinnovationsjournal.com/index.php/sij/article/view/4998



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