Creating the Conditions for Stories to be Heard

March 29, 2023 - by David Morgan, Executive Director, TEAM Inc.

How do we create the conditions for stories to be heard?  It is heartening to witness the breadth of meaningful involvement to respond to increasingly complex community conditions, harnessing the strengths and opportunities, the needs and wants, and the inherent capacity for us all to collectively build the work together.

And equally if not even more inspiring than any other concept is this: the deep commitment toward building relational infrastructure – to listen, to connect, to understand, to partner, to convene – as we strive to unpack current community conditions as well as deep and complicated root causes that find individuals and households navigating very challenging current conditions through no fault of their own.

How do we create the conditions for stories to be heard?  There are many tiles, roads, and opportunities – one method is Community Dinners.

I want to highlight an amazing All In For Ansonia and Derby experience on the evening of Wednesday March 8, 2023, in Derby. It was a full and standing room of residents as well as a number of local non-profit leaders and some of their board members – as well as a couple of elected officials.

The evening of community needs and concerns as well as strengths and opportunities was palpable. We shared stories centered around community wellbeing, quality of life and knowing our neighbors; stories of increased desires to work together and collaborate; stories of community resources including gaps and deficits, and the understanding that our communities and neighborhoods comprise very unique and special places.

We shared stories about our exceptional capacities to achieve more because we listen to one another and seek to work together meaningfully; stories about co-creating solutions toward growth and quality of life; of our continuous opportunities to thrive!

Creating the conditions for stories to be heard - by and with residents and neighbors from all walks of life; community leaders and partners; individuals elected and appointed; board members; and many more - allows us to individually and collectively tap into one another’s stories, networks, and assets in an ongoing and meaningful way.

When done effectively, we realize the transformative potential in changing hearts and minds as well as moving the needle on a much larger, systems-level scale across economic, social, environmental, health and wellness, and other factors - both current conditions and, yes, the overwhelming aspect of root causes.

The deep scope of work across overall individual, family, and community wellbeing and meaningful involvement/empowerment – all while realizing the vast opportunities throughout our neighborhoods and communities, our organizations including TEAM, and the region at-large in what root-cause solutions we want to co-create together while equally addressing current conditions bearing down on families, friends, neighbors, and one another.

When we create these conditions and relational infrastructure in an ongoing, meaningful way that people can gather and feel like they have a place to build solutions together – there is a transformative feeling; one in which just when it feels unsurmountable (affordable housing, anyone?) … the humanity bursts out.

Disagreements? Of course. Common ground? Yes, of course! This is where the relationships and the stories slice through the most overwhelming divides and polarizations, we find in almost every aspect of our lives as a peoples and organizations – when that humanity bursts out and the common ground identified, we can write the next chapter of the stories together.


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