Food lines that stretch miles. Violence in our nation’s capital. 500,000 people dead and rising. The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has become a mirror of who we think we are as a society. This crisis reveals both the best and worst of American life and forces us to ask the question, “Where do we go from here?” Utilizing the arts and humanities as a springboard, join Spirit & Place and its many community partners to brainstorm around Building New Worlds and reimagine the future after Covid-19. All discussions are free and will take place virtually.
A spin-off of Gentrify emerged in 2017 that aimed to move learning to action. From the Ground Up met monthly at Kheprw Institute and invited the community to dive deep into projects that THEY wanted to launch or expand. The meetings at Kheprw helped community members develop strategies and discover how to best develop and use their social capital and relationships.
Also in 2017, Spirit & Place and the Kheprw Institute launched Equity in Action. Topics tackled during this speaker/community conversation series included:
Liberty & Justice for All? Legal and Criminal Justice
Something from Nothing: Economy & Social Capital
Public Dollars for the Public Good?
Prisons, Re-entry and Modern Day Slavery
Environmental Policy in the Post Obama Era
Red Lining, Housing Discrimination and Gentrification
The Color Line: Arts, Equity & Inclusion
From late 2017 through 2018, Spirit & Place conducted a series called Powerful Conversations on Race. This monthly community discussion series explored the themes set out in the text Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence.
Community-based facilitators trained by Spirit & Place in the civic reflection dialogue method focused on text and other source materials to catalyze community conversations about race and racism in America. These community dialogues provided an opportunity to engage in deep conversations, listen to each other, and be pushed to our growing edge.
Learn more about lessons learned and future plans here.
Community Engagement Philosophy
Beginning in 2015, Spirit & Place reevaluated and began to move away from an outreach model of working within the community towards one rooted in community engagement. Some of the major changes in how we are moving deal not only with a perspective shift, but in incorporating new strategies in working with our community. Our engagement approach can be viewed from three broad categories:
• People-Centered Engagement
• Adaptability and Flexibility
• Capacity Building and Collective Impact
• Embracing Emergence
We’ve reoriented our perspective from “outreach” (which assumes a center/source and a target) to “community engagement” (which embraces reciprocal and ongoing relationship / community development that builds trust). In this model, time is the most critical investment to successfully build effective, collaborative relationships and programs. Being present at crucial community conversations is important, as well as listening without expectation or agenda. In being present and listening to learn and understand, community concerns are in the driver seat and approaches are people centered.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Flexibility is essential to effective community building and civic engagement work in order to accommodate its many forms, which range from bringing together disparate groups with similar interests and compatible skills to pairing a more established group to mentor a start-up group. It is also important for Spirit & Place to have a presence in current events and issues.
Capacity Building and Collective Impact
We continue to explore what it means for Spirit and Place to fulfill its mission via a collective impact approach or bringing our “A Game” to support community capacity building around civic engagement. In this approach, weaving together new relationships and collaborations leads to exciting opportunities for unseen voices to emerge and new ways of seeing and doing. It may also mean that we use our work in community and in program design to support our community partners as they move forward to looking at new ways of working in the community.
Centering “emergence” in our work simply means embracing the unknown and looking forward to the journey instead of focusing simply on the destination>; following the doors that open and carving new paths. Most importantly taking a risk to embrace and celebrate what may emerge from the process of working with, centering, and valuing our community. This principal often manifests simply by showing up and seeing what happens, who is there, building bridges, network weaving and then finding ways to move to action.
For more information about upcoming Community Engagement derived programming, click here for the Year-Round Events Page.
LaShawnda Crowe Storm
Community Engagement Director, Spirit and Place Festival
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (best option)