Using aspirations to guide communities on a better path forward

Posted on September 11, 2014 by Rich Harwood

People across the country feel the nation is not on the right track. They're tired of public discourse filled with acrimony and divisiveness. They believe too many people and organizations are focused on their own good at the expense of the common good. They wonder how we will make progress on the challenges that confront our communities. So what can communities do to change this and find a better path forward?

There are practical steps we can take, which is what my organization, The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, has been focused on for more than 25 years. Now, together with The Patterson Foundation, we’re embarking on a year-long initiative to help local individuals and groups come together in new and different ways and make the community the reference point for getting things done.

The initiative, “Aspirations to Actions” will help develop what I call public innovators –individuals with a can-do mindset who are turned outward to their communities, focused on people's shared aspirations, and know how to bring people and groups together to produce progress. To build stronger communities, we must spend less time talking about what we're against and more time focused on what we're for.

I’ll be speaking about these topics on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 4:30 p.m. at Lakewood Ranch Country Club, 7500 Legacy Blvd. The event, which is part of my national Reclaiming Main Street campaign, is open to the public.

During the rest of the week, The Harwood Institute will lead a Public Innovators Lab for more than 70 people from diverse areas and community interests. I've made the commitment to train 5,000 public innovators nationwide by 2016 to help transform their communities and find a new path forward. I'm delighted that the cadre of local individuals who attend our Lab will be part of this growing network of public innovators.

I invite you to join me and The Patterson Foundation at this important event.

Rich Harwood is founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation in Bethesda, Md. Connect with him on Twitter @RichHarwood and on Facebook at RichHarwood.

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