Photo: Aspirations to Actions 2019 Public Innovator group

When One Door Closes, Another Opens

Posted on November 26, 2019 by Deborah Gauvreau, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

Thirty new Public Innovators have joined the ranks of nearly 250 individuals supported by The Patterson Foundation’s Aspirations to Actions initiative who have completed The Harwood Institute's Public Innovator Labs. The labs are about advancing positive community action and inspiring people to Turn Outward toward our communities, facilitating the realization of community aspirations. Here are some of the thoughts shared at the final virtual lab gathering:


What is one pride point of your experience with the virtual lab?

  • I’ve become more knowledgeable about how to learn what is most important in our community
  • Our entire team is better at understanding how to work with the community to help get to the desired results
  • It’s exciting to begin to realize my own aspirations
  • I engaged in a deeper level of thinking
  • I am now using the Harwood approaches and practices in my work
  • Actually engaging instead of repeating old habits based on fear
  • Not getting pulled into problem saturated stories
  • Helping to create more synergy in Manatee County
  • Feeling capable, willing, and excited to tackle problems together
  • I feel more comfortable reaching out the community – better at listening
  • How much we all have in common with each other
  • How committed we are to the same things, and being connected
  • Becoming better citizens and better members of our community
What is different now as a result of using the practices you learned?
  • Understanding the importance of finding out what we have in common with others because this helps create deeper conversations
  • The self-care aspect of turning outward. Asking myself, “Have I paused so I can be truly available in this conversation?”
  • Listening with more intentionality
  • Practicing ‘not having to fix it’ — to just be present and listen
  • Focusing on right now — not thinking ahead all of the time
  • Able to listen differently and ask questions to help move the discussion forward
  • Being more focused on aspirations and less focused on the plan or problems
  • More aware of the distinction between turning outward and turning inward
  • Making sure I am really listening to what others are saying
  • I am observing more — about myself and others
  • Not arriving with the answer as often
  • Taking the time to talk with others to find out what issues impact them — before coming up with a solution
What’s next for you? How will you use and apply these new practices?
  • Beginning to learn who to work with in communities and understanding that they might not trust us right away
  • To begin a conversation and better understand what different communities need and want
  • I will be flexible to use words and language that people can relate to
  • More talking about diversity, inclusion, age-friendly
  • Using the Harwood process when making ‘story maps’
  • Incorporating neighborhood aspirations when creating plans
  • Continuing to study and review the Harwood materials often
  • Starting to ask the parents of the children I work with to tell me their aspirations for their children while in school
  • I can create the conditions for success
  • Continuing to learn the best way to use each of these tools when working with different groups
  • This virtual lab is the starting point rather than the finish line

As the lab comes to an end, a door is closing. Still, I am inspired as I take in how this new group of Public Innovators has described their future selves: Authentic, confident, excited, energetic, improving, pending, passionate, eager, open, here, engaged, transparent, optimistic, and most of all hopeful.

WOW! I want to live in a community full of these people!

Please, join me in welcoming our newest Public Innovators! Check out our October blog for the list of participants.

Editor's Note: Rich Harwood has innovated and developed a new philosophy and practice of how communities can solve shared problems, create a culture of shared responsibility, and deepen people’s civic faith. Stepping Forward book circles aim to help participants build a sense of community, foster positive relationships among citizens, discover shared aspirations, and embrace possibilities for our collective future through guided discussions around Rich Harwood’s Stepping Forward book. Stepping Forward shows readers how to channel frustrations, energies, and aspirations to get on a more hopeful path.

Read the FAQs to explore the possibilities of this unique opportunity. Then, sign up to lead a book circle.!


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