That's certainly an easy statement to make, but much more difficult (at times) to navigate. But under the best circumstances and with the right people who work to craft and support positive connections and collaborations, that change can be significant and meaningful.
I'm fortunate that in my community there is a great organization dedicated to help others develop their skills and support them in helping to realize their goals and fulfill their potential (which ultimately benefits our community as a whole). The Network for Community Change (NC3) has over 4,900 members who "live in, work in, worship in, or care about Louisville's urban neighborhoods." While working as a collective to impact and guide community sustainability issues, NC3 is not about problem solving (going into a place and prescribing what is needed) but about solution creating (going into a place and engaging those in that place to empower themselves to seek the solutions or answers that already exist within themselves).
It is about mutual agreements. About recognizing that all of us are creative, resourceful, and whole.
- Creative: we all have an imagination, can be expressive, exude passion for something we believe in.
- Resourceful: we all can find a "way out of no way, " adapt to situations or circumstances, see a bigger picture and our place within it.
- Whole: we all are complete within ourselves and able to be supportive if we in turn are supported.
It isn't about "ME" it's about the "WE" of our connections. It is about recognizing that we all have a talent (or talents) to contribute if we are willing to respectfully engage with one another as partners, not as a "fixer" (as in, "tell me the problem and I will tell you the solution"). As Ebony from NC3 said "you can't dream for other people but you can ask 'what is your dream and how can I support it?'." And it is about holding one another accountable for their actions while we hold ourselves accountable as well. And it is about the connections we have with one another. I may not have the knowledge or expertise you need to help you with your situation or answer your question, but perhaps because of the relationships I have built, I know someone who can assist. As a result of helping you facilitate a connection with another, and letting you navigate that new relationship, I have helped go beyond the "me" to truly create the "we."
|My notes from NC3 "Network 101 - Power Member Training"|
If a community, or any relationship for that matter, is going to be healthy and thrive we have to move past the past. We cannot constantly point fingers of blame or expect that the other person will apologize for what we perceive to be the hurt prevailed upon us. We must be willing to acknowledge our own part in the relationships we are working to build and support, and acknowledge when we have done harm in order to move on to healing and progress.
We all have a role to play in our community. And it may, truthfully, never be the role that gets the media attention or the standing ovation. But we each add our own unique thread to be woven into the cloth that we wrap and enfold our community in. We all have goals, dreams, aspirations. We all have a vision about what we need to do to lead a fulfilling and rewarding life. And because of that we need to live a life of compassion and care in regard to one another and help make dreams become reality.
If you don't have an NC3 in your community, there is nothing stopping you from building one, because you are creative, resourceful, and whole. And it's not just about building one for your community, build a network for yourself. Look around at the relationships you have. Ask if they are reciprocal. Ask if you (more or less) get back the same time, talent, energy, and effort, you are putting into them. Ask if you are respected and supported as much as you respect and support. And if they are not, it is time to move on and surround yourself with those that want you to be the best possible you there is to be. So you can help your family, your community, your network, not just survive, but thrive.
As the year unfolds, there is always time to ask "where do I want to go, how will I get there, and who is willing to undertake this journey with me."
So, whether you are interested in building a better community (in the way the fantastic staff at NC3 are along with all the engaged and enthusiastic members) or just want to focus on personal goals, remember:
"If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse."
What are you waiting for, make a connection today, because positive and productive relationships are the key to sustainable change.