Photo: Participants in Harwood's eight-session virtual lab

Affirmation in Turning Outward

Posted on January 21, 2021 by Abby Rolland, TPF Fellow 2020/21
I'm affirmed.

Affirmed by The Patterson Foundation (TPF), affirmed by the concepts of "turning outward" and "community-focused," affirmed by the people who live, work, and play in the Suncoast region of Florida.

Why, you may ask?

Because of the people who live here, the concepts I described above work. And that's never been clearer than right after ending a meeting with the TPF cohort of participants in The Harwood Institute's Fall 2020 Virtual Lab.

The lab, for those of you unaware, (and if you are, read my previous blog post or check out the A2A initiative!) is a place for people around the country to come together to learn how to turn outward and develop shared aspirations, to learn how they can take small steps to make a difference in each of their communities, and to learn from each other's experiences.

For this cohort, TPF's three Fellows: myself, John Ferguson, and Hannah Saeger Karnei asked seven curious, committed individuals (Clara Alvarez, Carolina Franco, Joni Hansen, Jake Hartvigsen, Kiarra Louis, Laurie Miller, and Ben Tollefson) to participate and engage in the eight-session virtual lab. We asked them to think critically about the Harwood concepts on their own, and then come together in two small groups to discuss and share how they hoped to implement the knowledge into their work.

After completing their final session with Harwood and during our post-lab meeting, the participants shared with the three facilitators and capable logistics coordinator/consultant, Josephine Eisenberg, how they planned to implement their learnings into their work.

Answers from "taking small steps" to "pausing to sit and think" to "identifying different ways to participate in various communities" to "finding ways to collaborate" abounded. And there was much more that would take me multiple pages to write.

There was plenty of serious discussion about learnings, but there was also laughter and joy in each other's company. It can be difficult to create that atmosphere online, but I could tell that even in a Zoom meeting, the participants not only learned about concepts such as turning outward and developing shared aspirations during their lab experience, but also found ways to connect while discussing these important concepts.

Throughout my working career, and especially at TPF, I've learned that building relationships with external partners is vital. Everyone brings various strengths to the table, and we need to work together to build stronger and better communities.

But internal relationships matter too. How can you work with coworkers who have different views than you if you cannot identify that you're all working (in TPF's case) to make the world a better place? Establishing internal alignment, even if you don't all agree on the same issues, is vital to getting a job done and making work an enjoyable place to be. Different opinions and ideas and personalities help us do our work better.

So, I'm affirmed by the amazing participants who took part in the Virtual Lab together and the knowledge and strengthened relationships that they now have. They were strong, intelligent, highly engaged, hard-working, and community-minded individuals before, and now, with the Virtual Lab knowledge and concepts in hand, I know they will do even more.

John, Hannah, and I, and so many others, are so excited to see what each accomplishes next.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.