Educational Symposium #2: Developing solutions to meet the needs of our valley

Following a quick welcome and a bit of housekeeping about grant application updates, it was clear that those attending the second of our symposia were eager to continue the conversations initiated at the first symposium.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFacilitator, Tom Benthin provided a short overview of the October symposium.  At that meeting, he encouraged attendees to take a moment and imagine themselves in the future in 2018 and that they had been wildly successful in creating the future they would like to see for our community. Those visions were shared and captured in a graphical summary, a word cloud, and a brief prepared by Impact100 members, Louise Massie and Judith Walsh, and were then categorized into themes (see summaries below). Tom explained:  “If this was the opening of the conversation about the future of our valley, the question then becomes: Where do we go from here?”

Providing the attendees with a new template (see photoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
to right), Tom charged the group with two goals:

  • Generate continuing conversation about these topics and welcome others into the conversation
  • Set a context for how you could inspire change to take place

The template provided a place for goals, who was involved in the conversation, the resources needed, and a timeline – a set of steps needing to take place to reach that goal.

Attendees then selected to join a conversation on a topic of interest and they set to work.  After about an hour, each group posted their templates (accessible here) and summarized their discussions as shown below.

Community and Hub Activities
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Goal: A Nonprofit Learning & Resource Center to educate, provide training and encourage and facilitate collaboration
To avoid re-inventing the wheel, they want to connect with Kathy Swett, former ED of the Sonoma Community Center, and build on what they have learned and accomplished.  The Presidents Council, composed of president’s of Sonoma Valley nonprofits, was also identified as a resource.
Steps included:  (a) creating a survey to identify what the needs are, (b) analyze, prioritize, and integrate the knowledge gained, (c) create the organizational structure necessary, (d) obtain the funding.

Cross Cultural Connections & Community Identity
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Goal:  Creating connections and increased communication among nonprofits serving our community
With such an enormous topic, the group decided to look at the resources seated at the table (representatives from La Luz, The Women’s Club, and Ceres), and to use them as a case example of how to break down current silos (individual organizations working in isolation of one another) and to instead focus on making connections. (Of interest:  the three organizations were unfamiliar with the work of the others.)  It is all about building a community of conversations.
Steps included: (a) find ways of making connections among nonprofits – e.g., increase visibility of programs, host events and invite other nonprofits, etc. (b) choose organizations to coordinate with, work together, support one another, and trade services.

Enriched & Accessible Community
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Goal:  Performing arts venues utilized for multiple purposes
Rather than establishing a new performing arts center, the group focused on creating better accessibility at all of the existing venues in Sonoma Valley
Steps included:  (a) evaluate current accessibility at venues, (b) examine working models (e.g. Sonoma Film Festival), (c) identify gaps, (d) create an umbrella organization to help with collaboration, accessibility, and marketing,  (e) funding.  Key will be effective inner city transportation to and among venues.

Health, Wellness, Nutrition (1st group)
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Goal: A nutritionally educated community with access to affordable food
This group focused on nutrition and examined all of the groups currently serving the community, including efforts of Supervisor Susan Gorin.
Steps included: (a) inventory existing resources, (b) interview those organizations to learn what is working and where the obstacles are, (c) summarize data and submit a report

Health, Wellness, Nutrition (2nd group)
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Goal:  Diabetes management and nutritional health for low-income persons
The group agreed that the first step is access to and education about healthy food.
Steps included: (a) identify and connect existing resources, (b) create referral relationships, (c) collaborate on patient outreach, (d) create infrastructure for data reporting and tracking, (e) establish food distribution points throughout the valley, (e) connect to self-management resources, (f) meet and share resources on an ongoing basis.

Learning & Education
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Goal:  Raised awareness of existing educational opportunities in the valley for all segments of our community
The group recognized that there are a lot of educational programs in our valley, but it is often difficult to find out about them.
Steps included: (a) identify existing programs, (b) analyze their ideas, visions, and plans, (c) identify the needs in the community, (d) align and identify the gaps, (e) invite collaboration among all the parties.

Nature/Ecology & Agriculture
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Goal:  Establishing a sustainable Sonoma
Focusing on ecology, this group took the standard:  “Think globally and act locally” and turned it on its head.  Instead they looked at creating a sustainable Sonoma that would serve as a model for other communities.  The key will be in building successful partnerships (similar to the highly successful Team Sugarloaf).
Steps included: (a) identify and prioritize the critical components, e.g. water, land use, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, transportation, (b) establish partnerships and identify their specific roles, (c)  identify initial and long-term funding, (d) create and disseminate models.

Youth and family
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Goal: A multi-cultural Youth and Family Resource Center (on-line)
Though some in the group preferred that the center be a tangible location, most of the conversation was around establishing an online bulletin board that would connect youth and family with both opportunities and resources.
Steps included:  (a) look at current models that are out there, (b) identify the stakeholders, (c) hold a planning meeting, (d) identify resources, (e) identify marketing needs, (f) write a grant for funding.

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Following the presentations (and an enormous thank you to Tom Benthin for his facilitation), the attendees were tasked with a final activity: Write down an action you want to put in place based upon what you have heard today.  What are you committed to doing?  How can you inspire each other to take action?  These actions are listed below:

Spearhead dialog for a coordinated vision for action among youth-serving agencies
Pursue more collaborative communication with specific outcomes
Contact Ecology Center and Landpaths re collaboration
Talk to Kevin about the Film Festival
Start a dialogue with other performing arts principles
Create a place for nonprofit organizations to collaborate easily and effectively re: their needs and what they have to offer
Develop a community wide website – to post needs, and fill them
Connect with Quarryhill
Visit Quarryhill Gardens
Community health
I will type up names and emails of people at our table
Organize
Have a conversation with Cristin Lawrence about the Youth and Family Resource Center next steps
Contact the Community Center for nonprofit lists to make sure Impact has them all
Collaborate and communicate with other nonprofits to increase the use of community resources
Reach out to other nonprofits
Moving forward
Connections
Work with Juan to host Spanish classes
Begin to work with other nonprofits that reach the same community – Girl Scouts
Contact Quarryhill re joint classes
Follow up with Sonoma Clean Power model
Look into how to get a bike bath along the highway
Read Sustainable Sonoma
Establish two partnerships for sustainability in the next 6 months
Educate the heart
Have further conversation about Family & Youth Resource Center
Contact Sonoma Valley Community Health Center to discuss further collaboration; contact WillMar to see if they can utilize our services
Inform myself of potential future partners by reviewing Impact’s nonprofit list
Create an easily-accessible nonprofit directory – names, functions, contact info, etc.
Express gratitude to Impact100

 Many thanks to all who attended, to all who helped to organize, and to our generous sponsors: Nelson Family of Companies and our 2013 major underwriter, Union Bank.

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