A few SCGLR team members engaging with the community

Listening is Indeed Action!

Posted on December 06, 2017 by Stacy Sternberg
Turning Outward ... Community Rhythms ... Public Knowledge ... Expert Knowledge, each part of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation's practice made me feel lost because working in an online community with mainly contributors that share expert knowledge felt unimportant compared to other public innovators' experiences. I struggled because it felt like my 'community' wasn't suffering and, subconsciously, one of my Harwood takeaways was that a community needs to be having problems for the learnings to manifest.

The importance of the Aspirations to Actions Facebook page paled in contrast to other public innovators working in homelessness, literacy, and violence, but the aspiration for a virtual hub for local public innovators to share their stories, make comments, and ask questions of one another seemed a worthy pursuit. I put a lot of pressure on myself to grow the page and began experimenting with ways that would garner interest.

So here I am, a few months after the Harwood virtual lab. The Aspirations to Actions Facebook page is basically on a ventilator with a handful of supporters and the pulse for my motivation to Turn Outward felt like it was circling the drain too. Then – insert sound of a defibrillator. Again – sound of a defibrillator.

While I had thoughts about pulling the plug on the Facebook page, I managed to #Aspire2Action. In reading Deborah Gauvreau's blog, The Sarasota 10 Complete Virtual Lab — Sharing Lessons Learned, she identified quotes from some of the participants. One, in particular, caught my attention. My coworker, Beatriz Paniego-Béjar who was on the Outreach Support Team for the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) said, "Working with the community, I am listening to them, fully dedicated to going beyond being an 'Outreach Team' and becoming the Engagement Team.

As an employee at The Patterson Foundation, I know the campaigns work well, so it seemed like the thing to do was to rename them the Engagement Team.

What I imagined to be a small tweak ended up being much more. Both President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, Debra Jacobs, and the Director of Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Beth Duda agreed with the request to change the name and, in the process, remotivated me to Turn Outward. During the SCGLR team meeting, Beth surprised them with the news and presented each with new business cards which were well received.

From this experience, I now understand that to #Aspire2Action, the sky doesn't have to be falling. There doesn't need to be a problem present to change things and make them better. One just needs to listen, and if it makes sense, take a step forward.

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