After speaking and listening to over a thousand people who live in the North Fork Valley, the Heart and Soul Project is coming to a close at the end of 2013. The three who led the endeavor locally, Alexis Halbert, Elaine Brett and Sally Kane, now will see if their hard work will continue to positively impact the valley's future.
Will the conversations started and the ideas shared help to create the kind of future many said they wanted for the North Fork Valley?
While there were those who embraced the opportunity to share about their North Fork experiences with their parents and grandparents and their hopes for the future, others were absolutely resistant, even resentful and angry to be even asked. Trying to garner a letter of support from the Crawford Town Council was a trial by fire for the Heart and Soul trio. The Hotchkiss Town Council had trustee Dustyn Foster represent them on a Heart and Soul advisory board. The Town of Paonia was particularly supportive with Barbara Peterson, town clerk, participating in training sessions.
It seemed at first, and for some throughout the entire Heart and Soul process, difficult to embrace the idea that the Orton Foundation, which funded this process to help bring community planning back to the community, didn't want to dictate what the communities should do in the future. Heart and Soul was there to help guide members of the community to set their own agenda for the future, not Orton's.
The values that matter the most to those in the North Fork Valley included protecting the rural and natural environment found here; keeping the small town and community sensibilities; stabilizing the local economy; cherishing freedom, independence and personal responsibility; and honoring the valley's traditions and heritage while facing future challenges.
Heart and Soul heard the most from those 45 to 65 years of age, followed by those 65 and older. Then came the 30 to 45 year olds who wanted to share. But those 20 to 30 years of age seemed the least interested in sharing. Those under 20 shared their views almost three times as much as those in their 20s.
At the beginning of the community summit on Friday, Oct. 25, at The Paradise Theatre, Jordan Schevene premiered his film, "Exploring the Values of the Valley." The film shared the lives and views of many different people who live in the area. Those who saw the film were really moved. You can see the film online at the Heart and Soul website, www.northforkheartsoul.com.
Saturday morning participants broke into groups and explored each value identified by the community. Each group was asked to ascertain what would happen if we did nothing and what would happen if we tried to shape the future. It brought forth a number of ideas and a willingness to dialog. People seemed to realize that the dialogue has to be taken to town councils and the county commissioners to have meaningful impact on local decisions and planning.
One of the means to continue to impact the future was through mini-grants totaling $10,000 from the North Fork Heart and Soul Project and the Western Colorado Community Foundation. Thirty local proposals were submitted for consideration. The North Fork Seed Library at the Hotchkiss Library won the People's Choice mini-grant at the community summit, then on Nov. 1, the rest of the winners were announced. They were Preservation of the Crawford Town Hall, Emerging Leadership Training through the Creative District, North Fork Historical Society and the Blue Sage Historic Markers and Talks Program, Hotchkiss Downtown and Highway Corridor Improvement, The Conservation Center's Paonia River Park Project, and The North Fork Preservation Center Feasibility Project.
The leaders of Heart and Soul have written their own conclusion about this community adventure. "By cultivating a shared understanding of our community's strengths and challenges, we can use our collective wisdom to move forward in a unified way. Translating our different values is also our greatest challenge: bringing together a politically and ideologically diverse community to create common ground and a common language. We are working to balance the traditional lifestyles of the historic communities of the Valley with the economic and social needs of newer inhabitants and younger families. We hope you will continue to share in these conversations and ideas as we transition out of the Heart and Soul project ... "blog comments powered by Disqus