Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Sustainability Tree

Last night here at the CADCA Mid Year Institute in Phoenix we held a "Coalition Cafe" based on the World Cafe model.  This is the third Cafe in three years and one of the most popular activities of the Institute.  The Cafe provides a unique opportunity to connect and talk with each other, to share what we are all learning both here at the conference and from our experiences at home in our local communities.

Last night our topic was Sustainability.  Our intention was to host a vibrant and engaging conversation among the 150 coalition members attending. To get things rolling we seeded the room with two starter stories. 

The first, Heidi Bainbridge from Van Buren Cunty Safe Coalition, Keosauqua, Iowa told her story about the coalition and what they have done over the past five years to set up the conditions to be sustainable. 

Then Ari Russell from Gwinnett County Coalition for Health and Human Services talked about their experiences over about 20 years sustaining their community work.  Each of their stories had the elements we were hoping to understand more clearly -- what do we maintain in our communities and what to we focus on sustaining?  We may maintain a brick wall but we sustain a tree.  We maintain programs but we sustain community change.  More coming on each of these coalitions in another post.

Our questions: 
  • What does sustainability mean to you?
  • What does your coalition do to engage the community in creating the future you want? 
  • Beyond money, what is it that makes sustainability possible? 
When we harvested the conversations we heard a variety of things -- none of which involved money which is often the case in these conversation.  People were very focused on relationships, including vulnerable and important populations, making sure youth have a leadership role in community change, etc. After hearing from the room, we asked everyone to take a paper leaf from the table and record a lingering question, new idea, potential practice or an action they are taking away from the session and place it on the Sustainability Tree in the hallway outside the ballroom.  They did.  They turned a bare bones (and not to pretty) tree into an amazing visual of sustainable possibilities.

The Sustainability Tree from the Coalition Cafe, CADCA #MYTI10

Let's Talk!
It's your turn.  What would you add to the tree (in the comments)?

1 comment:

@Circlesofsa said...

I would add One Message, but many messengers.