North Fork Valley Heart & Soul , Colorado
The North Fork Heart & Soul believed there is a better and more inclusive way to move forward together in the Valley and to make decisions that take into account the diversity of experience, knowledge, and understanding people have about where they live - about what makes this place home. Heart & Soul provided a path towards building thriving places to steer the future of the North Fork Valley. A group of local residents, officials, and volunteers from the North Fork Valley who wanted to learn about what all our neighbors think matters most about where they lived and where they were headed; about the common goals they shared in their communities and for their local economy; and about how to protect and celebrate the heritage of the North Fork Valley.
Recognizing the need to engage the larger public in addressing local trends and challenges, a citizen group named “Vision 2020” began public conversations about what the economy could look like in the year 2020, focusing on how to develop existing areas of strength and how to further grow a diversified economy.
The Vision 2020 group applied for the Heart & Soul grant through the Foundation in hopes of finding a solution to address the valley’s greatest challenge: translating our different values to bring together a politically and ideologically diverse community to create common ground, language and a shared vision for the future.
Volunteer and Community Response:
Heart & Soul Collaborations included supporting the development of:
• the Hotchkiss Downtown Improvement Project;
• an updated Paonia master plan;
• the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition and arts district;
• the “Pass the Mic” youth radio training program;
• the Friends of Paradise Theatre and leasing of facilities to keep the theatre open by the Paonia Chamber; and,
• the Community Summit and Joint Chamber Symposium, “We take care of our own” and a partnership with the Western Colorado Community Foundation to give 3 $10,000 mini-grants to local projects.
The project cooperated on several local storytelling and art projects that highlighted community members’ personal stories and connection to sense of place:
• Rita Clagett’s 100 years Photo Project – “Neighbors, Strangers, Friends” featuring interviews and photographs of the valley’s senior citizens;
• Woven Heart Spots Installation by visiting artist Lane Taplin, a multi-media project which weaves stories about sense of place into handmade and dyed fabric art;
• Paonia Fashion Show – Live Your Dreams (theme inspired by the Heart & Soul Project);
• Community built art wall/alleyscape behind Elsewhere Art Studio;
• The North Fork Valley Health and Wellness Directory; and,
• Jordan Schevene’s film “What Matters Most: Exploring the Values of the North Fork Valley”.
Heart & Soul Outcomes
These local projects are working within the beliefs and themes by incorporating “what matters most” into their work:
• Creative Coalition Leadership Training is incorporating values-based decision-making modules into non-profit leadership development;
• The North Fork Alternative Plan used the documented value of “Rural and Natural Environment” in their submission of North Fork Land Management Guidelines to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management with regard to appropriate land use planning; and,
• Citizens and Town Trustees are asking how development plans are in alignment with the shared beliefs at town meetings and in newspaper letters to the editors.