On Saturday, September 19, 2009, citizens from around Raleigh joined together at NC State’s McKimmon Center for the 6th Annual Raleigh Neighborhood Exchange. The event is planned by a citizens committee and led by the Community Services Department. The keynote speaker was Gail Kenyon, a social worker for 29 years and an educator for 22 years who works for the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) Training Group. This year, workshops included seven different sessions for citizens to get in-depth knowledge on certain topics. The workshops offered were:
- Community organizing ABCD
- Gang prevention (which was canceled)
- Community gardens
- Diversity in communities
- Business and neighbors
- En Espanol (Spanish session)
- Teen Topics
After a great breakfast, participants had two break-out sessions, an hour a piece, to attend. Basically, they got to choose from the seven topics and attend the ones they were interested in. Thanks to members of District D Neighborhood Alliance (DDNA) and SouthWest Citizens Advisory Council (SWCAC) , we are able to bring you a series of articles that will cover the majority of the topics. Look for future postings that will provide summaries of the workshops. Ron Danley of the Caraleigh Community and Mary Belle Pate, Chair SWCAC, will be providing updates on the sessions they attended.
Participants were able to experience the ABCD model during a 45-minute exchange session held before lunch. In a room with several hundred people, each table divided up and practiced mapping out things they were good at (skills), organizations there were part of (associations), and topics they were passionate about (actionable). At the end of our asset collection, we came up with a project that satisfied everyone at the table which used our skills, tapped into our associations, and allowed each member to participate on an action that they could achieve.
Lunch was another good meal, the keynote followed. Gail Kenyon focused her keynote on hospitality. She started off with a very basic question: what makes a good neighborhood? The answer is simple and complex at the same time: people.
Kenyon went on to say that everyone in a community needs an opportunity to share. Share the things in their heart, head, and with their hands. These are the assets of our neighborhoods. She helped us define strangers as someone in a community who hasn’t shared. She challenged us by asking what gifts do strangers have to offer. Think about that neighbor that you haven’t met yet. They have something to share, we just don’t know what it is yet.
Another topic was about the difference between services, programs, and community. Services are not communities and many times we find communities that are under or over-served by services and programs. Service and programs alone, can not make a community. It takes people, and it means including everyone, even the strangers.
Kenyon stated that a neighborhood is not a fully whole, until everyone can give their gifts.
A few more definitions from the keynote:
- Hospitality: the action of receiving gifts, from guests, visitors, and strangers with generosity and good will.
- Association: the power house of communities where needs and services are transformed into gifts.
- Connectors: neighborhood leaders who get the ball rolling. Every person in a community must view themselves as a connector, and therefore a leader.
Kenyon concluded the keynote by saying that strong neighborhoods create strong families and strong individuals which ultimately creates strong democracy. Communities who reach out to strangers and create friendship ultimately create whole communities.