The term “community dialogue” might be bandied around a lot these days.
But in a new initiative, the Pikes Peak United Way aims to translate those conversations into action.
The nonprofit organization is hosting dozens of small-group listening sessions as a way to help set its community impact agenda — three issues that the organization plans to help address in 2014.
The initiative is the brainchild of Jason Wood, the nonprofit’s new chief executive, and it’s meant to help steer the community’s energy and resources in a common direction.
Once those listening sessions are finished, Pikes Peak United Way officials plan to combine that data with the nonprofit’s upcoming Quality of Life Indicators report. After reviewing that data, officials plan to announce three main focus issues in January, said Carrie Cramm, the nonprofit’s vice president of community impact.
“That’s the goal of these community conversations, is to hear what our community hopes for in terms of our region,” Cramm said. “…Everyone around that table, the hope is that they’d be able to bring something to move that needle. United Way will do the same.”
So far, the organization has hosted 24 listening sessions featuring a range of participants, including the Colorado Regional Business Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Rocky Mountain PBS. Sessions were also held for University of Colorado at Colorado Springs students, a yoga group and residents at the Salvation Army’s R.J. Montgomery homeless shelter.
At least eight more listening sessions are planned over the next few weeks, Cramm said.
So far, a few of the topics discussed included the need for quality jobs, a better public transportation system, acceptance of diversity and more affordable housing, she said.
Cramm admits that “community dialogue” initiatives can often lose steam, leading to a lot of talk, but little action.
She feels this idea will be different.
“There is a readiness for action,” Cramm said. “And if we can funnel that energy and that passion and those resources to make an impact, then that’s what were going to do.”