Earlier this year, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) partnered with The Harwood Institute to bring additional resources to the DeSoto community, reshaping the problem-solving approach and fostering innovative, collaborative partnerships that might not otherwise have emerged. This effort empowers the community to navigate issues with new perspectives and build stronger, more effective collaborations. This partnership deepens and accelerates community-led change, builds on the "Solutions to Actions" work already underway, and catalyzes change. This initiative has three primary goals:

  • To illuminate key issues that matter to people and better understand the community's underlying conditions that make DeSoto County
  • To take action on key issues that matter to people
  • To strengthen DeSoto County's civic culture so the community can accelerate and deepen its good work.
As shown in the table below, in March, April, and upcoming in May, The Harwood Institute is poised to have hosted 24 community conversations across all areas of the City of Arcadia and DeSoto County. Four researchers from the Institute have conducted the conversations to gather insights from diverse areas of the county and small groups of people, organizations, and communities to move towards a shared purpose of change in the community. Ninety-five percent of these conversation attendees to date have been new to the TPF/Aspirations to Actions work in DeSoto County.

While the conversations are open to all who reside in DeSoto County, four are with students, four have supported the African American Community, three were conducted in Spanish, and in May, a small group of Haitian residents will have a conversation.

Support from TPF A2A team members Avery Crews Prado de Lima, Cheri Coryea, Sherry Oehler, Alicia Exantus, Ashley Coone, Alexa Carr, Marla Smith, Melissa Hirstein, Clara Alvarez, and engagement team members Lyndsey Smith and Sandra Vega-Picchietti have helped make these a success.

* Registration continues at these sites through 5.12.24. Numbers are registered as of 5.6.24
On August 1, 2024, at 6:00 pm at the Turner Agri-Civic Center in Arcadia, The Harwood Institute, led by Rich Harwood, will share a report on their learnings and findings from these community conversations. On July 31 & August 1, targeted topic small group roundtables will also be held to discuss the specific findings and gain feedback.

We look forward to sharing the report published in English and Spanish and a video.

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