October 2019 – March 2021
Aspirations to Actions Stepping Forward Book Circles
As an investment in our community through the Aspirations to Actions Initiative, The Patterson Foundation brought Rich Harwood back to the region to discuss his new book, Stepping Forward. In conjunction with the author’s visit, The Patterson Foundation supported registered book circles throughout Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Participants learned to Turn Outward and were inspired as Rich shared his time-tested principals and philosophy used in 50 U.S. states and in 40 countries on how communities can uncover shared aspirations.
Strengthening the Impact
Over the past 30 years, 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 aimed 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 showed readers how to channel frustrations, energies, and aspirations to get on a more hopeful path.
What is Stepping Forward?
Stepping Forward is a book by Rich Harwood, founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and nationally recognized advocate for Turning Outward. Included here is a brief synopsis of Stepping Forward.
Many of us are looking for an alternative to the divisive nature of our public discourse, mistrust and broken promises. Where we can find hope to bridge our divides, come together and get things done.
Rich Harwood offers a new path forward. Stepping Forward makes the case that we don’t have to accept the divisions, gridlock, and negativity happening in our communities and country. He knows, from working in communities for more than 30 years, that we can rediscover what we share in common and actively build upon it.
Stepping Forward shows us how to channel our frustrations, energies, and aspirations to get on a more hopeful path. This book shows us how we can step forward to —
- Turn Outward to see and hear each other and afford every person human dignity
- Rediscover what we share in common by focusing on our shared aspirations, even amid our real differences
- Recognize we must tap into our innate capabilities to produce meaningful change
- Forge a new shared responsibility to marshal community resources to solve problems and harness people’s yearning for genuine engagement
- Create a new can-do narrative by focusing on civic parables that remind us that we can be actors, shapers, and builders of our shared lives
What was a Stepping Forward Book Circle?
Why did The Patterson Foundation support Stepping Forward Book Circles?
Who could join a book circle?
What were the expectations for a Stepping Forward Book Circle?
- Registered a minimum of eight participants.
- Had at least six people of the registered eight meet three to five times by December 1, 2020, although best book circle practices suggested five meetings.
- Gave the book circle a nickname.
- Answered the corresponding Poll Everywhere question provided by TPF at each book circle meeting.
- Provided at least one photo and one story from the book circle with The Patterson Foundation for sharing on social media.
- Came to a consensus about what nonprofit with an up-to-date profile in The Giving Partner would benefit from a group's Pay It Forward Award.
What did participants get when they joined a Stepping Forward Book Circle?
What if groups didn't come to a consensus?
Why did my book circle need a nickname?
Why would someone want to join a Stepping Forward Book Circle?
- Guests learned something new.
Even Public Innovators had the opportunity to learn new things about other people in their group and therefore more about their community...in some cases, guests learned more about themselves.
- You could be a part of something new.
The chance to work together to decide the fate of the $250 Pay It Forward Award was new. Also, book circles full of yet-to-be friends created new orrpotunities to build relationships!
- Participants were part of a national “happening.”
Stepping Forward Book Circles happened all over the United States. By deepening our understanding and tools to connect with others, we joined a national network of people “Turning Outward.”
Why would a business form a Stepping Forward Book Circle?
Why would a nonprofit form a Stepping Forward Book Circle?
What happened as a result of being part of a Stepping Forward Book Circle?
In the words of Dr. Suess, “And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.”
Who could I have asked to join my book circle?
I was part of The Power of Presence Book Circles. Is this the same thing?
Stepping Forward Book Circles were similar in that anyone was welcomed to lead or join one. However, rather than collecting a stipend per meeting, qualifying book circles received one Pay It Forward Award to be designated to a local nonprofit with an up-to-date profile in The Giving Partner.