Photo: Community Conversations in DeSoto County

Listening and Learning in DeSoto County Through Community Conversations

Posted on June 06, 2024 by Cheri Coryea, consultant with The Patterson Foundation
Earlier this year, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) partnered with The Harwood Institute to bring additional resources to the DeSoto community, empowering it to navigate issues with new perspectives and build stronger, more effective collaborations. 

From March to May, The Harwood Institute hosted 24 community conversations across all areas of the City of Arcadia and DeSoto County 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 the over 300 new 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 have been with students, four have supported the African American Community, three were conducted in Spanish, four were geographically placed to include citizens from outlying areas, and in May, a small group of Haitian residents had a conversation.

During one of the community conversations, people were asked, “How would you describe DeSoto County to someone who has not been here?” Some of the responses from the session included:
  • DeSoto County is - Quant
  • DeSoto County is - Quiet and Changing
  • DeSoto County is - Rural
  • DeSoto County is - Full of Potential
  • DeSoto County is - Paradise
  • DeSoto County is - A Beautiful Natural Habitat (Peace River)
  • DeSoto County is - A Place for Endless Recreation 
SAVE THE DATE: On August 1, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. at the Turner Agri-Civic Center in Arcadia, The Harwood Institute, led by Rich Harwood, will share a report on its learnings and findings from these community conversations. On July 31 and August 1, targeted topic small group roundtables will also be held to discuss the specific findings and gain feedback.

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