Words that descripe Public Innovators and the Harwood approach

Libraries: A Vital Resource Evolving and Strengthening Together

Posted on April 26, 2018 by Deborah Gauvreau, consultant with The Patterson Foundation
Forty-five Sarasota and Manatee county library Public Innovators came together for an Innovations Space – a sharing of ideas, discoveries, and opportunities. The session was a culmination of a process that started in the fall of 2015 when more than 120 individuals came together as part of The Patterson Foundation’s (TPF) Aspirations to Actions (A2A) initiative. Its purpose was to hone skills in listening and facilitating conversations that evolve into positive actions in the community. TPF spearheaded the 18-month process which was guided by The Harwood Institute and its coaches who seek to inspire people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.

For TPF, positive change starts with the individual, with people, with relationships. Once we authentically connect, we can engage and create together. Public Innovators in our libraries are now shifting their approach, language, perspective, and culture to be a stronger, even more vital resource for the community. Some of the positive actions occurring from the 18-month journey reported at the Innovations Space included:

Our library personnel are:
  • connecting to genuinely listen, gain knowledge, and learn more about community aspirations,
  • having community conversations, cross-department and organization connections, sharing what they have learned with confidence and authority,
  • dissolving organizational silos to create new pathways,
  • experiencing themselves as receptive leaders, enlisting broad attention to address community aspirations,
  • responsively changing programs, using the library more effectively, referring expressed desires to other solution-equipped organizations,
  • morphing the responsiveness of their programming, creating spaces for people to meet, share, and connect to reduce loneliness and isolation,
  • inspired and inspiring others with their capacity to listen, learn, respond, and serve,
  • transcending their previous ideas of themselves, and
  • they are truly becoming Public Innovators for the entire community.
Manatee and Sarasota libraries are learning, discerning, and applying new ways – recognizing that this work is not a project. It’s not extra work. It’s a way to work. A way to be. It’s how to think, listen, learn, relate, respect, honor, and share the preciousness of each one’s aspirations with the intention of discerning how we might together realize our aspirations. More than ever, libraries are a vital resource helping us make our neighborhoods strong and our communities vibrant.

Where do we go from here? The Manatee and Sarasota county libraries are evolving and strengthening their capacity to contribute to our communities in new ways. TPF sees the Harwood Virtual Lab as a tool to continue to share the Harwood practices where beneficial. Tested with rave reviews, the Virtual Lab is a robust multi-week online course that can open the door to any person’s desire to create more meaning – to step off of the hamster track and into rich opportunities of creative connectivity.

Comments (1)

  • Sarabeth


    16 May 2018 at 19:41 | #

    Deborah -

    Thank you for the encouraging shout-out for the lab participants from Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

    We continue to learn.
    We are thankful for the generosity of citizens who spoke of their aspirations at the Conversations. We seek to draw meaning from what we hear, to share the knowledge with others, as well as apply the information to adapt our practices and enhance services.

    Thanks to everyone at The Patterson Foundation and Harwood Institute.


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