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  • Writer's pictureChristine Moore

Your Voice Matters to Us!

Updated: Apr 4

For those of you who have been following along with us on our IG account @colleycommunitycenter (a huge thank you is in order, by the way), you may have seen our recent posts regarding the Needs Assessment Survey that we launched along with the amazing folks at Elizabeth River Project. As it seems like people are constantly asking for surveys to be filled out these days, I wanted to provide a bit more context for why we want to hear from you.


From the very start of this pursuit, we've wanted to establish ourselves as an organization that values, prioritizes, and more than that amplifies the voices of the community members we hope to serve. From walking with now board member Nicole Barnes up and down Colley Avenue and introducing ourselves to local business owners to hosting Meet & Greets in the community to attending civic association meetings to engaging younger citizens at the Norfolk Youth Council meeting, we have sought to initiate conversations with our neighbors at every turn as we're building this nonprofit from the ground up.


As we first started to dream up what the CCC could become, we leaned heavily on Mathie and Cunningham's (2002) research in which they propose that an "asset-based community develop" (or ABCD) approach is the most humanizing and effective way to implement sustainable programs. An ABCD approach doesn't look outward for ways to empower a community; instead, this approach looks to draw on the assets that already exist and builds from within. This means looking for opportunities to mobilize the leaders that are already doing great work in their communities. This means collaborating with the creatives and visionaries that already live down the street. This means providing platforms for the locals to showcase their expertise and thereby inspire their neighbors.


One of the ideas that stands out in their article is the concept of “lead[ing] by stepping back” (Mathie and Cunningham, 2002). This is the very reason we're actively looking for workshop facilitators who live and work in Norfolk. It's also the reason we want to flip the script a bit on who we tend to view as experts. If you make wearable jewelry for fun, you can lead a workshop. If you have helped people successfully prepare for a job interview, you can lead a workshop. If you are particularly skilled with technology, you can lead a workshop. It doesn't matter your age, your degree, or your years of experience... if you have a skill or an artistic ability that you'd will willing to share with others, than we want to provide you the space to do just that.

 

Put simply, we don’t want to impose, we want to EMPOWER!


At the CCC, we want to honor our community members’ needs & draw on their strengths. The first step in that process, though, is to identify their needs, and we can only do that if we hear from our neighbors directly. We've received some excellent feedback so far, but we want to make sure we're hearing from as MANY voices as we possibly can. With than in mind, please consider taking a few minutes (my guess is 5 min. max!) to fill out our survey. You can find it here. Please share it with your friends, coworkers, family members, and neighbors who live in the area. Thank you in advance for taking the share your thoughts; we can't wait to hear what you have to say. More than that, we are excited that your voices will enable us to "ste[p] back" and follow YOUR lead.


One last word about this survey... we feel SO FORTUNATE to partner with the team at Elizabeth River Project. They are equally as invested in our community and finding ways to help it thrive. Thank you specifically to Jamie Melvin for helping design and launch this survey. We're so lucky to have her support and ingenuity. And did I mention that she has also joined our board of directors!!! Her insight and resourcefulness have already contributed so much, so a big shout out goes to Jamie and the rest of the amazing ERP staff for partnering with us on this initiative!

References

Mathie, A. & Cunningham, G. (2002). From clients to citizens: Asset-based community development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice, 13(50), 474-486. https://doi.org/10.1080/0961452032000125857


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