Caldwell: Residents are truly ready to ‘Turn Outward’

A popular proverb (and just to be clear, Hillary Clinton didn’t come up with it even though she used it as a book title) is that “it takes a village to raise a child.”

The exact origin of this axiom remains somewhat undetermined, but the meaning stands crystal clear: Everyone must work together to help our youth achieve success.

Taking it a step farther, you could certainly say it takes a village to raise a community.

That was one of the key concepts that came from the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation’s workshop designed to help empower residents and give them a framework for proven ways to elevate Winchester and Clark County.

Called the Public Innovators Lab and sponsored by The Greater Clark Foundation, this was an amazing opportunity to build connections and partnerships that will enrich our community for years to come. Nearly 100 residents came together for two and a half days this week to learn tangible methods for making a difference and creating positive change.

Institute founder Rich Harwood emphasizes that, regardless of the challenges and adversity a community faces, growth and improvement is possible.

“We’re each on a journey. We’re each after something important. We want to strengthen our communities, increase the relevance and impact of our organization or group, and personally be effective,” Harwood says in his material. “But working in communities isn’t easy. Communities have a life of their own. They’re organic systems we can’t control or simply impose upon solutions. But, if we are willing to ‘Turn Outward’ and make more intentional choices, we can shape communities. We can make a difference. We can make hope real.”

Those concepts were certainly among the many takeaways for those in attendance. Many positive words were shared: optimistic, excited, energized, eye opening and game changing, just to name a few.

The program was built around five key Harwood principles:

— Understanding our community — which starts with people’s shared aspirations. We must know what matters to people.

— Being turned outward — where the community, and not our conference room, is our point of reference. Our community must always be in our line of sight.

— Creating the conditions for change and sustainability — where we start with where the community is, and not where we wish it were.

—  Deciding on the right path — there are numerous paths for taking action. We’ll help you think about the right one for your context.

—  Making an agreement with yourself — about what we value and how to stay true to that when doing the demanding work. You matter.

It was exciting to be surrounded by people who were positively energized and ready to drive change.

No one should expect an earthshaking shift to start. This was just the first step of a long journey.

“We all feel called to do different kinds of work in the community. For me, I feel like my calling is really trying to help people connect with that power that lies within us, and that I think we sometimes give away and then don’t know how to take it back,” said Jen Algire, president and CEO of The Greater Clark Foundation. “I feel like that is part of what we have done during these three days.”

But, let’s be clear. This isn’t about the Greater Clark Foundation any longer.

The just offered tools to some of the individuals who will lead change, but the end result will be determined by each and every citizen getting involved and asking what they can do to make Winchester and Clark County a better place to call home.

No one who participated in the innovators lab will be making decisions as to what is best for the community. That is not the task. It was about learning to ask the right questions to the right people, understanding how to truly listen and knowing how to leverage individual talents into organic and inclusive efforts to move us all forward.

As several people said, our community cannot wait for Superman to come “save us.” We don’t need saving and we can be our own superheroes championing the place we call home.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.