Aspirations to Actions

Turning Outward and Other Ways to Foster Public Innovation

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Vicki Vega
Being a practical, action-oriented type of person, I wondered what the Harwood Institute could teach me about being more effective in my thoughts and actions.

So I answered the call from The Patterson Foundation providing an opportunity to learn via a course in public innovation.

First I had to learn the vocabulary. What did it mean to “Turn Outward?” What was the value of identifying “aspirations?” What was the “Ask Exercise?” What were the relative values of “public” vs. “expert” knowledge? How was a “Community Conversation” different from a town hall approach to listening?

How could this online course with my “Sarasota 10” colleagues be meaningful, and how could it ultimately convert “Aspirations to Actions?"

The question was posed to me after three of eight sessions by the managing consultant for Age-Friendly Sarasota (my assigned initiative), and I had only a vague idea of how to answer.

Here’s what I said then, and now, two more class sessions later, here’s what I believe:

The focus to date has been on techniques to determine community aspirations via conversations and listening, i.e., "Turning Outward." This should set the stage for productive work in the future to help build community knowledge and public will, execute strategies and actions that fit the community, and embed and sustain the change.

That's the "what." Next is to figure out the "how."

Regarding a plan for the use of my training, for now, I’m interested in learning more about the approach and in getting to know the other nine local “public innovators” enrolled with me. For it is together we will explore possibilities none of us could uncover alone.

The future should reveal itself.

I can’t help but think of the words of poet Anne Ridler as I patiently try to figure out what’s next, seeking closure on something that will be forever changing and evolving: “A certain ambiguity of rhythm is one of the beauties of a poem."

And so it is with life and our never-ending quest for creating a better world – one community at a time, seeing the possibilities.

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