Despite the unusual challenges that 2021 brought, our Community Heart & Soul network continues to grow and thrive. As we wrap up the year, we wanted to welcome and celebrate the newest additions to our network.
More Heart & Soul Coaches achieved certification than ever before during 2021. This year, we launched a new Virtual Coach Training Series, a 12-week program that teaches the fundamentals of the Community Heart & Soul model. Heart & Soul Coaches play a vital role in supporting a community’s Heart & Soul effort. Coaches serve as trainer, facilitator, consultant, and advocate throughout the process. See our full cadre of Coaches at: https://www.communityheartandsoul.org/coaches/.
Residents in small cities and towns across the country saw the importance of Community Heart & Soul for coming together, promoting inclusivity, and bolstering local economic development. We are delighted to welcome the following communities this year:
Garnett, Kansas initiated Heart & Soul to give more voice to local residents and provide guidance to the city’s long-range plan. Since starting Community Heart & Soul in March 2020, they have hosted and attended many community events. Most recently, the Growing Garnett Heart & Soul Team partnered with the local elementary school to collect feedback from youth. Students responded to the question, “What do you love about our city?.” Responses are compiled in an e-book, viewable on their website.
A few hours north of Garnett, two communities in western Iowa–Akron and Westfield, Iowa–joined together to establish Stronger Together: Akron and Westfield Heart & Soul. The collaboration between towns was a natural fit as the communities share a school district. Their goals include building a sense of community pride and togetherness focused on the positive aspects of Akron, Westfield, and surrounding areas. After launching in June with the renovation of a vacant lot, the Heart & Soul Team spent the summer and early fall at local events such as the 4th of July celebration, back-to-school pool party, and Akron-Westfield ice cream social. They are now collecting input via focus groups and a community survey. A report on their Phase 1 accomplishments is available here.
Village leaders in Cambridge, Illinois wanted to get more voices involved in community planning and saw the opportunity to adopt Community Heart & Soul as a proven model. With retiree Mike Wignall serving as the town’s Heart & Soul Project Coordinator, the team has already garnered significant local press coverage. Watch the video below to see Mike’s interview on the Paula Sands Show:
With leadership from HEAL Winchendon, a community-based coalition, resident and youth leaders are promoting inclusive community engagement through Community Heart & Soul in Winchendon, Massachusetts. Community engagement began this fall at local events where residents were asked to respond to the prompt, “In five years, I want to see…”
Through our longstanding partnership with Pennsylvania Humanities, the Pennsylvania communities of Carbondale, Wyoming County, Tidioute, and Youngsville also joined Community Heart & Soul this year. These communities sit along the Route 6 Heritage Corridor, the longest highway segment in the Commonwealth. The Route 6 cohort receives training and technical support from a unique partnership between Pennsylvania Humanities, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the PA Route 6 Alliance.
As we look forward to 2022, we are excited for the launch of Heart & Soul in Postville and Muscatine, Iowa, our two most recent grant awardees through the Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program. The Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program provides $10,000 to resident-led groups in small cities and towns that are getting started with the model. Seed grants are still available! Learn more and apply at https://www.communityheartandsoul.org/seed-grants/.