Community Conversations – Where we’ve been and where we’re going.  Join in!

In 2017, the Westchester Library System launched a community conversation series intended to gather perspectives from across the Westchester community.  The program evolved quickly thanks to partner opportunities and community need during the pandemic.  Work included an exploration of criminal justice reform,  education on trauma and resilience, and health and wellness services during the pandemic.

In Fall 2022 we are returning to our original intent, which is small group community conversatons held in person (and on Zoom) to gain perspective from across the county on aspirations for our community.  It is from this base of understanding that we hope to inform future planning.  The mission of WLS is to empower lives and communities…to do that, we must listen!

Our model for community conversation is based on the work of the Harwood Institute, which is the go-to place for people and organizations looking for ways to fight against the negative conditions stifling progress in society. Tools from The Harwood Institute have been used by many communities to change the conversation and move forward to shared action.  A sample of The Harwood Institute’s tools is posted below. For a deeper dive, explore their website, which includes case studies, podcasts, and links to more information and inspiration for change.

Questions?  Just ASK US!

After a brief intriduction and group review and approval of groundrule for the discussion, you’ll be given a sheet of paper with topics for comment. You’ll be given some time to jot down some thoughts and then the facilitator will ask for your responses.  These will be recorded on a flip chart.  As the conversation proceeds, we’ll look for common themes.  If there are topics that emerge as most relevant to the group, we may focus the conversation on those areas.

Areas for consideration:

  • My aspirations for my community are:
  • The challenges we face in reaching these aspirations are:
  • The changes needed in my community to reach our aspirations are:

In closing, we’ll build our story:

We began by saying that we wanted a community where ____________________ (aspirations) but we face ____________________ ( challenges). So if we want to reach our aspirations, we need to create ____________________ (new conditions/change)

While these sessions will not be recorded, you will receive the summary “story” via email as a reminder of what we discussed.

When the fall 2022 series is completed, we will send a summary of all conversation themes and stories to participants that provide us with contact information.

See how we described our work so far at the June 2022 American Library Association Conference.