listen :: design :: gather :: flourish



These  are two values that I hold when I engage in work with people and communities. What a joy to see people and places grow and experience life in fullness of relationships, safety, cooperation, equity, health and connectivity.  My work with One Wyoming, a collaborative of schools, business, government, church, nonprofits and residents to improve the quality life in the community,  started with helping the collaborative listen.  Letting their work be permeated with the voices of neighbors, students, and business owners, so a collective input could direct their next steps.  Surveying brought together important insight and information about the lack of knowledge of resources in the community, and also the value people place on their neighborhoods. 

This listening brought together a multi-sector team to strategize about how to connect people with available resources and also bring neighbors together in the community.  The idea for Wyoming WinterFest was born, a one day event in the middle of winter's cold and dreary days to take place all across the city in different locations.

Derek Sivers, has a short TED talk, about how to start a movement.  He shows a video clip of people at an outdoor concert. In the video, he calls the guy beginning to dance the one "lone nut."  Slowly a couple people join, bravely they step out, then three becomes a crowd, and the dance party swells. 

There is a group of leaders in Wyoming, who were "nuts" enough to begin a movement.  Brave enough to step forward and "dance" outside the box of what had been done before.  And when you do a dance with a bunch of people who haven't previously danced together, you might step on some toes, the choreography might be a little off, but the end result brings about a party. 

On February 18th a fantastic party took place in 7 different spaces in Wyoming. It was a WinterFest, on the warmest and sunniest day of Winter in West Michigan. (Almost a springfest?!)  The cooperative spirit of over 350 volunteers brought together over 40 partners and created a movement toward a community flourishing.  It was a delight to see over 1,400 people laughing, sharing food, playing games, connecting with resources and with one another.  Wyoming experienced vibrant community because they listened well.  And it wasn't about the one day party, it is much more. It is the collective spirit that is strengthened, the cooperative relationships that are leading to further collaboration, and increased opportunities to serve and love the city. It is already resulting in dreams about caring for the environment on this upcoming Earth Day and starting a pilot health resource partnership between a hospital and church's community space.  One Wyoming listened well and the city is brighter today and taking steps toward being healthier tomorrow.