Judd and I invited people to the community gathering. We spoke to about 50 people face-to- face at various places around town, posted the invitation in four places in the Patch, emailed township committee members, appointed commissioners, and local organizations listed on the township website.
At the gathering, we identified shared interests, defined success for ourselves in our community, and examined our current reality. We began that night by answering 4 questions:
1. What are the things you care most about?
2. What are your skills, knowledge, hobbies, interests, passions, businesses… etc…?
3. What are indicators of a thriving Hillsborough?
4. What changes faster, a plant or a human?
We learned that we care about ourselves, creative expression, authentically educating children, our town’s thriving local economy, and, of course, world peace.
This group self identified as crafty and creative. The group’s interests and skills ranged from music to healthy cooking, computers, sports, gardenering, and even sword making. Almost everyone mentioned philanthropy.
People indicated a thriving Hillsborough included; generations owning and working for successful local businesses, a high level of township participation in arts and cultural events, education designed for a tolerant future with creative solutions to today’s challenges.
The plant or person question primed people for a discussion on drivers of change, but due to time constraints, we did not follow up on this discussion.
After examining the above in small groups, we looked at trends and focused our attention on the things we all cared about:
- Thriving local businesses that meet the needs and goals of the community in which it resides.
- Local businesses, schools, media, and community members working together to create authentic learning experiences for our children.
- Balanced cost of living with local economy.
There are already people working in these areas in town, and having positive results. The more we come together, the more we can see and the more we can do. Let us gather for a 2nd discussion focusing on building larger networks to support each other as we strive for that which we all agree we want. Date, time, and place TBA. We will find out how many people we can collectively reach, what kind of central communication system will best meet our needs, and continue to refine and integrate all of our skills, needs, and goals.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world”- Margrette Mead ... “Depending on their ability to build larger networks”. (Senge, 2008)