In preparation for this citywide community event happening April 22nd – 28th, the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP) and its partners are asking that all interested groups seeking support with supplies and/or litter disposal submit all information no later than April 10th at noon to from 5:30 – 6:30 PM at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
“Richard James loved this city and he held a vision for people to come together to make it a better place. He organized a cleanup event last spring, and we want to honor him by calling this the ‘Richard James Memorial City Cleanup,’” said Alice Trowbridge, SGP project coordinator.
The cleanup event is an opportunity for the citizens to give back during the week of Earth Day and positively impact their community and local environment.
Partners across the city will be hosting events to collect litter. These partners include Penn College, Lycoming College, UPMC Susquehanna, The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership and Heart of Williamsport (HOW) team, Larson Design Group, Newberry Community Partnership, Cleanscapes, Stevens School Neighbors, Justice Works Youth Care, the Beloved Community Council, New Covenant UCC, Pajama Factory, PennDOT, and Staiman Recycling.
Community members are encouraged to join one of these efforts or gather a group and host their own neighborhood cleanup. Registered groups will receive trash bags, safety vests, gloves, and training on how to conduct their event, as well as assi stance with coordination and litter disposal.
If you are interested in participating in the cleanup, you must download and submit this linked VOLUNTEER FORM no later than noon on April 10th. Submissions are being accepted by Alice Trowbridge, firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-337-5850.
This year, Heart of Williamsport is serving as a champion for the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, supporting the SGP through Raise the Region. When you donate to SGP during Raise the Region, choose the Heart of Williamsport option and we all benefit!
Help us Raise the Region and Grow the Greenway! Use the link below on March 13th or 14th to donate to SGP
Help grow the Greenway on March 13th and 14th during Raise the Region; a 30-hour giving campaign.
The Susquehanna River is a Pennsylvania treasure. Its waters flow gently through the heart of Pennsylvania, enriching the landscapes and communities along its path.
However, more and more communities and residents have become disconnected from this resource. The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership works to mobilize public and private partnerships to connect residents and communities to the Susquehanna River and to each other via the Susquehanna Greenway.
The Susquehanna Greenway is a network of conserved lands, trails, parks, river accesses, and communities that run along both sides of the Susquehanna River.
It is a planned corridor that not only connects residents and visitors to the Susquehanna River and its vibrant cultural and historic assets, but it also acts as an important link in connecting communities together.
We have a very high quality of life here in the Susquehanna River Valley, and the Susquehanna Greenway is an integral part of increasing that quality of life and promoting outdoor activity and healthy lifestyles.
The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP) is the only organization dedicated to advancing the entire 500-mile vision of the Susquehanna Greenway within Pennsylvania. We are unique for our ability to convene and coordinate efforts to establish the Susquehanna Greenway with our diverse network of public and private partners, as well as local community leaders.
However, bringing a 500-mile vision to life takes time and resources. We need your help to keep our vision alive and progressing.
Please donate to the SGP today.
Help grow the Greenway on March 13th and 14th during Raise the Region; a 30-hour giving campaign.
A donation of any size will make an impact and allow us to continue our critical work to connect you and visitors to the Susquehanna River.
Fast Facts on the SGP.
SGP is the only organization dedicated to advancing the entire 500-mile corridor of the Susquehanna Greenway.
Our ultimate goal is to grow a network of trails and open space so that you can walk, bike, or paddle from town to town along the entire length of the Susquehanna.
The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is the state-appointed Water Trail Manager of the West Branch and Lower North Branch of the Susquehanna River.
The Heart of Williamsport (HOW) project is a collaborative project launched in 2016 of the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership. SGP works with a large collaborative of community partners mission is to identify what residents value and share this information to guide Williamsport’s future.
Help grow the Greenway on March 13th and 14th during Raise the Region; a 30-hour giving campaign.
Step Outside for the annual MLK PeaceWalk, Rally and Day of Service
From your friends at
HEART OF WILLIAMSPORT
in support of Beloved Communities
Please join us for the annual MLK PeaceWalk, Rally and Day of Service event will be held:
Monday January, 15, 2018
(Dr. King’s actual birthday)
The event will be held at Pennsylvania College of Technology in the Bardo Gymnasium. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for registration for service project.
Volunteers will be sent to several community service providers in Lycoming and Clinton counties. Most of the service provider agencies are in Williamsport.
There will be a short PeaceWalk through the nearby neighborhood at 9 a.m. The walkers will return to Bardo Gym for warm refreshments and to listen to guest speakers.
Afterwards, the volunteers will be sent to their service projects (approximately 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.).
Other events – Tuesday January 16, 2018 – 7 p.m. Lycoming College Clarke Chapel 700 College Place, Williamsport, PA Lift Every Voice and Sing – A Celebration of Dr, King’s life. (2018 will mark 50 years since his death.)
Various members of the community will sing, read poetry, in honor of Dr. King’s life.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 – 5 p.m. Christ Community Worship Center 436 West Fourth Street, Williamsport Unity Through Understanding
Doors open at 5pm Light dinner will be available. At 5:30pm members of the community will engage in conversation in a Round Table discussion about Unity through Understanding
Thursday, January 18, 2018 – 7 p.m. Pennsylvania College of Technology ACC Auditorium Community Unity
Coach Herman Boone, the inspiration for the movie Remember the Titans (2000) starring Denzel Washington as coach Boone. In 1971 Coach Boone, amid much rancor and racial tensions formed a winning high school football team. All events are free and open to the public.
Our Round Table discussion involved groups from the community brainstorming ideas for action corresponding with our value statement. Now, our next step is to consider our value statements in depth. The purpose is to draw attention to the areas that need improvement and recognize the Williamsport’s potential. Here are the upcoming dates of our Focus Groups.
Diverse Community: Monday, August 7th
7:00-8:30 PM @ Firetree Place
Arts, Culture, & Heritage: Thursday August 10th
5:30-7:00 PM @ City Alliance Church sanctuary
Urban Amenities & Recreation: Tuesday, August 15th
5:30-7:00 PM @ YMCA
Beautiful Natural Environment: Monday, August 28th
5:30-7:00 PM @ Susquehanna State Park Pavilion
Small- Town Feel: Thursday, August 31st
5:30-7:00 PM @ Sun Gazette
Educational Assets: Wednesday, September 6th
5:30-7:00 PM @ Curtain School auditorium
Health, Safety, & Welfare: Tuesday, September 12th
5:30-7:00 PM @ YWCA
Opportunities & Economic Growth: Monday, September 18th
12:00-2:00 PM @ Trade & Transit 2. (3rd floor)
If you’d like to evaluate the value statements ahead of time, click here
MARK MARONEY, Reporter
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, April 27, 2017
Richard Hosch could see a common theme developing on his table at the Heart of Williamsport “Summit Up” event Wednesday night.
The theme was the transition of the city’s downtown as a destination with more attractions, such as the Susquehanna River Walk, and a myriad of restaurants and specialty shops connected by a network of streets and nearby neighborhoods.
Hosch, a chef with a catering business on West Fourth Street in the Historic District, was one of about 50 individuals who gathered for a few hours inside the Cochran Primary School to go over the results of a communitywide survey. It included the thoughts of 944 respondents who explained what was important to them about the city and what changes they wanted to see.
Ruth Keller, a former public relations director, said the summit was “good to get people out.” She said she has a special interest in seeing neighborhood watch groups spread throughout the city to deter crime.
A fun time for all
Participants first filled out a demographic chart listing details such as their age, housing status, gender, ethnicity and household income.
The returned data from the survey was organized by themes for groups on the tables. They included educational assets, activities and events; opportunities and economic growth; urban amenities and recreation; arts, culture and heritage; small town feel and location; beautiful natural environment; health, safety and welfare; and diverse community.
“I enjoy taking part in the ‘Safe, Clean and Green’ in my neighborhood,” said Margaret Tupper, of Arch Street in Newberry, who was on the education assets table. The event she referred to is a bi-annual litter collection promoted by the Newberry Community Partnership.
The collection often brings people together, but more volunteers are needed, said Alannah Gabriel, a longtime coordinator of the group, who joined her friend Tupper for the summit.
David Defebo, of Woodmont Avenue in the Vallamont section of the city, sat on the opportunities and economic growth table. He read dozens of the responses, breaking them into sub-sections. They included ideas such as the city’s low-cost living compared to places such as New York or San Francisco, and its educational opportunities, with a college on either side of the city.
One response focused on the connectivity of the arts, culture and opportunity as a means for quality of life.
A predominant theme was the changing look of the downtown since 1999 and how its revitalization continues to bring opportunity for employment, entice new developers and improve neighborhoods.
Some 109 of the 944 responses involved Little League — not just for a superior form of supervised recreation and sport but also as a measure of the importance of Little League in the city’s heritage, as the place where Carl E. Stotz grew up and as the site that was the birthplace of the game, said Alice Trowbridge, of Susquehanna Greenway Partnership.
“Organized youth baseball and softball is a recreation, but Little League is so much more,” she said. “It is part of our heritage and our tradition.”
The community’s small town “feel” and short driving distance from metropolitan areas were among the favorites for one person. The city’s short distance from state parks, hunting camps, fishing streams, hiking and biking paths, skiing and canoeing and paddling on rivers and creeks was the lure for another.
Many families valued the children’s library at the James V. Brown Library and a responsive city government that makes itself accessible by holding public meetings and hearings.
Another table received numerous responses on the diversity of the community, which is one of its stronger points because of the younger generation that visits and uses businesses, some of which have been developed by young entrepreneurs.
Others valued the city and region’s public transportation system, one that is “cost-efficient and easy to use,” and still others saw value in the shopping district and its outreach toward customers, especially with many big-box stores closing their doors.
At the end of the activity, the responses were collected and placed into two categories: What people value about the city and why it is important. These will be used to create a vision statement, Trowbridge said.
Adding to the delight of the event, a mural created by students in pre-school through third-grade was shared.
The children drew images of what they thought was the ideal city.
The mural showed colorful flowers, happy babies, recycling bins, shade trees growing, baseball played, rainbows in the sky and a house where children could play in safety and secure from harm.
For the past year, Heart of Williamsport has used the content of 72 video stories to identify the common values people share, and develop vision statements that reflect these shared values.
The data along with the survey responses will be shared with city and county planners and may be adopted as guiding principles for decision-making.
The group is identifying projects and/or programs that will support the vision and “sense of place” that people hold dear for Williamsport and build bridges between groups of people who may not know each other.
You spoke, we listened. After a year of story gathering, video interviews, survey questions answered, and story listening, we will review the responses we have received from our community, and work together in small groups to develop our vision statements. We need you to help us “sum it up!” These vision statements will become the guiding principles to help influence local decisions and planning to put your ideas into action.
Your friends at Heart of Williamsport request the honor of your presence for our community event:
SUMMIT UP! What Matters Most
Wednesday, April 26, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Cochran Elementary School 1500 Cherry St Williamsport
(take Market St. west on Belmont to school; parking in lot or on the street; enter doors #9 or #10)
On May 18, 2016, the Heart of Williamsport team will meet from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Student Board room on the 3rd floor of Lycoming College Wertz Student Center. We will be ‘training’ for story gathering by collecting stories from each other, using outline scripts, audio recorders and flip cameras. If you have an interest in helping us to collect stories from the community please plan to attend. If you cannot attend at that time but would like to be involved, please respond by e-mail to email@example.com so we can schedule another ‘training’ – at a time that works for you.
Important upcoming dates: Wednesday, 5/18 11am – 1pm Team meeting for story gathering – we will be offering a story gathering ‘training’ at that meeting. Thursday, 5/26 – Beloved Community Council hosting a round table gathering for Heart of Williamsport storytelling. Mary Welch Honors hall 5:00- 8:30pm. (see attached flyer) Saturday, 5/28 – 2nd St. Block Party (we will attend and have a table, maybe record some stories, definitely capture rack card responses (see attached) Friday, 6/3 – First Friday, we will have a setup downtown for capturing stories. Friday, 7/1 – First Friday, we will have a setup downtown for capturing stories.
For this project to be a success we will need volunteers to assist with gathering stories, analyzing stories, and data entry. Not all of this work involves public outreach or meeting attendance; some of these tasks can be done working independently in your own home. If you have an interest to be involved please let us know and we will find a way for you to be involved that works for you.
Notes from our last meeting are found below and can be downloaded here:
Attendees: Richard James, Scarlett Littman, Dallas Miller, Alice Trowbridge, Jerry Walls, Mary Woods
Update from Saturday’s events: Mary, Richard and Alice promotedat both Unity Fest (Brandon Park) and Taco on the Block (West 4th Street) on Saturday, April 30, 2016. A diverse representation of the City attended each event, and a total of 54 rack card responses were submitted and 3 interviews were audio recorded.
As of 5/3 the on-line survey had 177 submissions, with a wide diversity of respondents; this is 21 days after the survey was posted.
Feedback from persons in the general public indicated that they are unclear as to what it is that we are doing.To address this the following revised mission statement was proposed – to be more specific about what it is that we are doing and why. (this can still be ‘word-smithed’)
Using storytelling as a way to connect with the people of Williamsport to hear what they like, what they want, and what they want to see change. Collecting stories from a group of people as diverse as our community, identifying what they value, and using this to develop vision statements to guide local decision making.
Draft Master List of Interviewees –
We are developing a list of persons for one-on-one story-gathering.We reviewed a draft list of categories of data we will want to collect to help us ‘code’ their stories for qualitative analysis.
There are currently 107 names of persons to approach for interviews.
Volunteers:we need to engage more people with doing our work.
Volunteers are needed to assist our interns; meeting with people to collect their stories.
Training for persons interested in volunteering with story-gathering will be offered at our next meeting on 5/18 from 11am – 1:00pm. A second date/time will be offered for another training to accommodate schedules of potential volunteers and include interns.
All stories will need to be analyzed and entered as ‘data’ – volunteers will be needed for this as well.
We need to begin outreach to schedule interview times. Interns will be available as of May 23, so we could have interviews scheduled as early as 5/25.Maybe team members could be interviewed by interns first – possibly May 24th – allowing everyone to get comfortable with the setup before we interview the general public.
Upcoming Events (May- June)
May Fest – Sat. 5/7 Mary, Richard, Jerry and Alice will host a table from noon – 8pm (Pajama Factory). This is an arts fest located in the Memorial Avenue neighborhood that will attract a broad demographic of attendees.
May 26 – HoW / Beloved Community Council Round Table for Storytelling, Thursday, 5:30 – 8:00pm (doors open at 5pm). Mary Welch Honors Hall (Lycoming College) corner of Basin and Fourth Streets. This will be ‘’Group Stories” – breakout groups of approx. 6 persons with a facilitator.
Story Gathering Training – next group meeting 5/18 11am – 1pm.
May 28 – (new) Second Street neighborhood block party, with a rededication of their Peace Pole.Organized by the Neighborhood Strategic Area (NSA).
June 3rd – First Friday. Alice spoke with Bonnie Katz who said to check into her store at 4pm, pay $10 fee, and get assigned a location.She will distance us from the live music to reduce background noise for recording stories.
All – work on volunteer recruitment; who would enjoy connecting with people in this way?
Robin will promote our upcoming events on our social media pages.
Richard will confirm the May 26th BCC venue and develop a flyer to promote the event.He will post this flyer on the BCC social media pages and provide it to Robin for the HoW pages. (Alice will send logo images)
Alice – purchase additional audio recorders for the training.
Alice – update Master Interviewee list and circulate for review and comment. Contact persons doing outreach to network connectors to see how they are progressing.
Alice – organize training materials for 5/18/2016.
Scarlett – develop excel spreadsheet based on Orton Foundation guidance. Begin to input data from the rack cards.
Team / Group meeting – Wednesday, May 18, 11am to 1:00pm
This meeting will focus on training facilitators for gathering stories for Heart of Williamsport.Anyone who can attend the May 26th round table and assist with story gathering should attend. Unless otherwise noted, we will continue to meet in the Student Board Room on the 3rd floor of the Lycoming College Wertz Student Center at this time each 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month.
Students in the Lycoming College FYS, Digital Storytelling, have spent the semester learning the art of digital storytelling and partnering with members of the local Black community to tell their stories. Please Join us for the premiere screening of their projects:
Local Black Community History Project Screening WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, at 9:30 AM in HONORS HALL
Heart of Williamsport partner Richard James also is part of the program, as an interviewee and as a filmmaker.
“Several weeks ago Lynn Estomin of Lycoming College asked me to be part of a Williamsport Black History project of Digital Storytelling. I accepted. I am one of several black Williamsport residents participating in the project. I was paired with a freshman student to create a video about my life in Williamsport. During my initial conversation with the student, Kyra Beltrandi, I talked about my experiences in Williamsport. We decided to focus on the years 2005 to 2008. I gave Kyra, photos and film clips relating to that time, ” James said. “Since I am an amateur filmmaker, I decided to create my own film about my life in Williamsport, too. I finished my film and Kyra’s will be shown together. The students’ work (and mine) will be posted to a couple of websites as examples of Digital Storytelling. The Black History project is part of a larger initiative to collect stories from rarely heard voices in our community. Lycoming College’s Black History Project contribution of student videos fit nicely into the Heart of Williamsport’s mission and will act as a jump start for the program.”
Kaitlyn Adams, Kyra Beltrandi, Sophia Davis, Ryan Donofry, Bob Elia, Janiece Gonzalez, Jen Grove, Kelsea Kenniff, Sam Lamport, Jake Lewis, Perla Licona-Vazquez, Cali Miller, Chris Sniscak and Billie Strickler.
Tonya Anderson, Sam Belle, Lucille Evans, Emily Gale, Velma Grimes, Vanessa Hunter, Linda Jackson, Richard James, Shaheed James, Marie Brown Maddox, Marguerite Royal, Spencer Sweeting, Janice Todd and Jeremiah Washington. The project also includes a story recorded by Mamie Sweeting Diggs in 2003.
A workshop to be held May 21-22 at Firetree Place in Williamsport offers the basic level experience from the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), an international volunteer nonprofit offering nonviolent conflict resolution practices.
According to its organizer, Tony White, this two-day experiential workshop is based on principles of affirmation, community building, communication, conflict resolution, and the power within each person to transform oneself and one’s community. In an environment of respect and trust, through a series of fun and empowering exercises, participants build self-esteem, connect deeply with others, develop communication skills, and practice creative nonviolent conflict resolution.
Tony White has completed the AVP basic, advanced, and training for facilitators workshops. He is co-facilitating the May workshop, hoping to follow up with more workshops in the area to establish a local AVP chapter. Others who complete all three levels can likewise become facilitators to further spread the techniques learned. This may be of special interest to those who work in social, correctional, or educational organizations or wish to reach out to marginalized persons. The skills are also helpful for personal development and everyday family, work, and social interactions, so the workshop is open to the general public.
Space is limited. To learn more or register, contact Tony White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-971-9509. Total cost for the two day workshop, which includes two lunches and break snacks, is $25. Scholarships are available and no one will be turned away for lack of the fee.
AVP, founded in 1975, is active in communities, schools, and prisons in 45 countries and has been shown to reduce anger levels and prison recidivism (visit www.avpusa.org). It is a nonsectarian nonpolitical organization. Tony White, a Williamsport native, teaches Philosophy at Pennsylvania College of Technology and Misericordia University.
The YWCA Northcentral PA invites you to join its first annual Unity Festival on April 30th beginning at 7:30 am.
The festival, designed to highlight the beauty and importance of our community’s multicultural and diverse population, will be held in conjunction with the YWCA’s Race Against Racism 5k. We are reaching out to groups and organizations that promote diversity in all its forms – from religious organizations, to groups who care for those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and more. The goal of the YWCA’s Unity Fest is to promote peace and openness by providing a safe place to be together.
The YWCA believes that just by being together and sharing information in one location, we foster dialogue, diminish prejudice and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The YWCA’s Race Against Racism, expected to draw about 200 runners, is one of dozens that will happen at the same day and time at YWCAs across the country to create a nation-wide movement toward equality.
Set-up time for the Unity Fest would be at 7:30 and tear-down time is planned for 11 am. If you have any questions or concerns, please call (570) 322-4637. We look forward to speaking with you and seeing you on April 30
Tacos on the Block Party: celebrate spring in Williamsport!
The first Williamsport block party of 2016 promises to be a blockbuster—and a bellybuster. Starting April 30 at 2:00 pm, the Tacos on the Block community party will feature live music, activities for all ages, street vendors and, of course, plenty of tacos.
Organized by neighborhood businesses, churches and organizations, Tacos on the Block will salsa into Williamsport from 2:00-5:30 pm on April 30. Located on West Fourth St. between Elmira and Center Sts, the party will feature dynamite local bands and delicious local food and drink in a family-friendly atmosphere. Tacos on the Block will be a great community party where neighbors can meet neighbors—with plenty of room for dancing, strolling, play and feasting in the spring sunshine.
Tacos on the Block will feature performances by the Epic Percussion drum circle, John Panaccio solo guitar, the Church Band, Christ Community Worship gospel singers and more! Other activities include:
a children’s play area hosted by Pop Up Play
arts and crafts vendors
and Mexican-themed food and beverages for sale from several local restaurants and food trucks
A wine and sangria bar will be available at Eagle Rock Winery, and other adult beverages will be for sale on the patio at the Peter Herdic House. (All alcohol must be consumed on licensed premises.)
Boogie on down to Williamsport’s Historic District and celebrate our lovely city, a beautiful spring, and a wonderful local community. Let’s get everyone dancing in the streets!
What: Tacos on the Block: a neighborhood party
When:Saturday, April 30, 2-5:30 pm (rain date: Sunday, May 1)
Where: At the intersection of Fourth and Elmira Sts.
Cost: free to enter!
Who’s performing: Epic Percussion drum circle, John Panaccio solo guitar, the Church Band, Christ Community Worship gospel singers and more
Who’s involved: City Alliance Church, the Eagle Rock Winery, the Peter Herdic House, Love Unlimited, AV Datacom Solutions, Christ Community Worship Center, and many others…
Interested vendors should contact Brittany Tasch at email@example.com or inquire through Facebook at City Alliance Church.
Williamsport – Developing Working Groups & Intro to Storytelling
Explore “storytelling” in terms of Heart and Soul
Sharing what was learned at the PHC workshop
Next Steps – preparing for events and interviews
Follow up from 3/21/16 Meeting
Review of Communications/Outreach group ‘Elevator/Grocery Line Speech’.
“Promoting community unity by sharing common beliefs and values while honoring unique stories of individuals.”
“Developing an identity and cultural renaissance, while connecting neighborhoods with the downtown area, and blending hearts and souls of Williamsport into one cohesive community.”
Share draft events list – so we can infill after our Storytelling Group Activity (which method, etc.)
PHC Workshop Information
What did we learn, and how will this help us moving forward?
Storytelling Group Activity (45 min)
What is a ‘story’ in terms of H&S, and why is it important?
Review of engagement methods
Typical questions and how to ‘dig deeper’ for meaning
Developing a storyteller list
Identifying Next Steps
What will be our first event?
How many people are needed?
who is willing to take the lead role?…assist?
What needs to be done in the next two weeks?
What materials will be needed?
Team / Group meeting – Wednesday, April 13, 11am to 1:00pm
Unless otherwise noted, we will continue to meet in the Student Board Room on the 3rd floor of the Lycoming College Wertz Student Center at this time each 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month. We can begin with working groups giving updates and then break out into groups to work on next tasks.
What’s next with the Heart and Soul Community in Williamsport, Pennsylvania?
Heart and Soul: Williamsport hosts regular workshop meetings: 1st and 3rd Wednesday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Student Board Room on the 3rdfloor of the Wertz Student Center, Lycoming College. Read more about our Project Objectives here >>>
What’s new with the Heart and Soul Community in Williamsport, Pennsylvania? The Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Employers, (PennACE) a statewide organization that “provides professional growth and networking opportunities for career development and recruitment professionals to enhance practices that benefit Pennsylvania college and university students and graduates” has chosen two Lycoming College students for their JoAnne Day Student of the Year for Liberal Arts Award.
Students Christopher Cizek and Sophie Herzing participated in Lycoming College’s WISE (Williamsport Intern Summer Experience) Program for 10 weeks during the summer of 2016. The students worked with volunteers of the Heart of Williamsport community engagement program, an initiative supported by Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Orton Family Foundation. The stories will be used to craft vision statements as guidance for policymakers in the city and region.
Cizek and Herzing, working with their mentors, conducted video recording interviews, transcribed the stories and produced promotional films and online ads for the Heart of Williamsport group. The students also participated in disseminating and gathering over 900 data rack cards at public events. Traveling across the city, the students interviewed over 70 Williamsport residents during their internship.
To be eligible for the JoAnne Day Student of the Year Award Cizek and Herzing must have completed an internship or co-op assignment that was related to: educational services, social science/service, humanities or human services, government, communication, arts, or entertainment. Each student will receive a cash award of $250.00. Both students are in their senior year at Lycoming College.
The interns were also interviewed at the end of their internship. Sophie Herzing spoke about all the different people she met, “I think they are what make it the Heart of Williamsport and what makes it so wonderful… makes it such a wonderful place to live.” Christopher Cizek appreciated the experience of perfecting his filmmaking skills, “I know the basics but had I not been with the Heart of Williamsport, I could have never approached my senior film at all…”
The step-by-step framework outlined in this section describes a model Heart & Soul process using four phases and eleven steps. Each phase is built around specific learning, capacity building or engagement goals, and together they lead to the overall project goals.
Phase 1. Lay the Groundwork
Laying the groundwork is about getting organized to conduct a successful Heart & Soul process. This is when you gather partners and a team of volunteers, figure out how they will coordinate with each other, set goals, and establish what will be included in the process. It is also an important time to find out who lives or works in the community and set up a communications strategy to reach them.
Below are each Step of Phase 1 in the Heart & Soul method. Download the complete Field Guide below for more details and specific guidance on using Heart & Soul in your town.
Step 1. Get Organized
This is when you assemble a team, size up your community’s strengths and weaknesses, and set goals. Take this step seriously. Each of its tasks plays an enormous role in the overall success of your Heart & Soul project.
Step 2. Create a Work Plan
A roadmap, or project work plan, is a basic requirement for good project management, and it also works as a communication tool that helps people understand what will happen when. The roadmap should include specific activities and tasks, timing, and budget.
Step 3. Spread the Word
This step is about building public awareness, interest, and good will for your Heart & Soul project. Community members will want to know about the Heart & Soul principles and the particular details of the project. Before you start getting the good word out, assemble all the tools, information, and people-power required to support communications.
Phase 2. Explore Your Community
Explore Your Community is the heart and soul of the Heart & Soul approach. It is about discovering what your community cares about—its shared values—and building a vision for the future based on those shared values. Activities in this phase focus on bringing a broad mix of people into the process to help identify these values. Telling personal stories about local experiences is a key engagement strategy in this phase, bringing people together and helping them to find common ground.
Below are each Step of Phase 2 in the Heart & Soul method. Download the complete Field Guide below for more details and specific guidance on using Heart & Soul in your town
Step 4. Gather and Share Stories
Before you start throwing around ideas or crunching data, take some time to simply hear what people have to say about their community and what questions they might raise. In this step, stories are gathered from a broad range of community members. This very intentional and active listening helps you discover what is important to people, what they value, and what they are concerned about, which sets your Heart & Soul work off on the right track—as open, inclusive, and worthy of trust.
Step 5. Identify What Matters Most
This is the cornerstone of Community Heart & Soul. In this step the Heart & Soul team and community members compile the stories and harvest information and data about what matters most, from which they develop a set of community values. These values provide the starting point for discussing issues, opportunities, and ideas for the future of the community.
Phase 3. Make Decisions
Making decisions is about figuring out how to protect and enhance your community’s values and how to build toward a future that honors them. What are the options available to your community and which should be pursued? Also important to the decision-making process is figuring out when things will be done. What will you do this year and what will you work on later?
Below are each Step of Phase 3 in the Heart & Soul method. Download the complete Field Guide below for more details and specific guidance on using Heart & Soul in your town.
Step 6. Consider Context and Develop Options
This step involves generating ideas, turning them into options, and developing criteria to evaluate and prioritize those options. Whether you’ll use your community values to inform an economic development strategy for the Chamber or land use plans for the City, you need to know your options. You also need to know how to weigh those options and choose the best ones.
Step 7. Make Choices
This is the step where you make choices to narrow down the options. In order to do this effectively, you’ve got to think about which options will lead to the best results, which are most needed, and which will take years to put in motion. It’s time to do a cost-benefit analysis, prioritize, match actions to local capacity, and stay realistic about timing.
Step 8. Formalize Decisions
This step is about turning the recommendations into formal decisions and an action plan, and ensuring that commitments are secured to make things happen. Commitments could include the local government adopting policies or civic and non-profit organizations formally adopting ideas for actions.
Phase 4. Take Action
Taking action is about following through with the action plan and doing the work needed to produce results. A particularly important action is to create a stewardship team that will keep watch on how the other actions are progressing. This leadership team coordinates the work and communicates progress to keep community members engaged and decision-makers accountable. This team also looks for ways to infuse civic culture and any community decision-making process with the principles of Heart & Soul.
Below are each Step of Phase 4 in the Heart & Soul method. Download the complete Field Guide below for more details and specific guidance on using Heart & Soul in your town.
Step 9. Mobilize Resources
In this critical step, your team needs to shift resources and leadership toward long-term follow-through and implementing the action plan. Without an organized, deliberate effort to transition the leadership to stewards who can make the actions happen, even the most dynamic community plan will not be achieved. A lot of energy and good will went into the plan’s creation so make sure it doesn’t get filed on a shelf to collect dust.
Step 10. Follow Through
Heart & Soul establishes a path to the future that includes many incremental actions. It also establishes a compass that helps the community reorient itself as circumstances change. This step is about initiating that first set of actions and then keeping an eye on the compass to be sure that you are heading in the right direction.
Step 11. Cultivate Heart & Soul
The Community Heart & Soul process is about inclusive and meaningful community participation and using community values to inform decision making. You are cultivating the heart and soul of your community by encouraging these concepts to spread and by building capacity where necessary to help make it happen.
Have you watched this video yet? Don’t miss Orton Family Foundation founder Lyman Orton speaking about the history and mission of Community Heart & Soul
Subscribe to the Orton Family Foundation’s YouTube channel to watch dozens of inspiring stories, organized by areas of impact, show the many ways Heart & Soul transforms communities. These include insights from people in Heart & Soul towns sharing first-hand knowledge of how the process shifts the narrative in communities and triggers positive change.
WILLIAMSPORT, January 13, 2015— The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) has awarded a one-year civic engagement grant of $25,000 for connecting with downtown neighborhoods to identify the shared values that reflect Williamsport’s Heart and Soul.This resident-driven approach to community planning and development will be a collaborative of organizations including the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP), Lycoming County Celebrates the Arts Alliance, Our Towns, Short Mountain Group, Hands on Heritage, Lycoming County, City of Williamsport, Lycoming College, Penn Strategies, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and the Orton Foundation.
Williamsport’s Heart & Soul team is dedicated to building bridges in the Williamsport community by bringing diverse groups of people together to identify shared values.Over the next 10 months the Team will plan and facilitate public events to meet with residents, students, business owners, and municipal leaders and engage them in “story telling” about living and working in Williamsport. These stories will be recorded and analyzed to uncover common themes, desires, and needs. This information will be used to set community goals and develop vision statements that express Williamsport’s unique sense-of-place. These vision statements will be shared with City Council as guidance for making decisions that reflect a shared vision for revitalizing Williamsport neighborhoods while strengthening connections to the downtown.
“With outreach into the neighborhoods we will be capturing the stories of people whose voices are not always heard. By making these connections we hope to identify new community leaders, strengthen neighborhood connections, and build working relationships and trust,” said Alice Trowbridge, SGP’s project coordinator. “The Heart and Soul process will bring together people who live and work in the City, many of whom may never have interacted with each other before. By understanding Williamsport’s core common values, we seek to promote a shared vision for revitalizing neighborhoods and to build bridges between the downtown and its neighborhoods.”
PHC’s civic engagement grants support humanities-focused approaches to community development throughout the commonwealth. Williamsport joins three other Pennsylvania communities that will receive civic engagement grants from PHC this year: Carlisle, Meadville, and the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.
To achieve the greatest impact and broadest reach through the civic engagement grants it awards, PHC has partnered with the Orton Family Foundation to bring its Community Heart & Soul™ method to PHC’s grant communities. Community Heart & Soul is a proven process that empowers people to shape the future of their communities by creating a shared sense of belonging that improves local decision-making and ultimately strengthens social, cultural, and economic vibrancy.
Key to the process is learning what matters most to the community through gathering stories from and engaging as many residents as possible, including those who don’t typically participate in public processes.
“We believe the humanities can inspire people to come together and make a difference in their communities,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC’s executive director. “With storytelling at the heart of planning and development, local values and voices become the foundation for building communities that are connected, innovative, competitive, and strong.”
About Susquehanna Greenway Partnership
The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership encourages the conservation of productive farmland and natural resources, and investment in our core river town communities. We promote the exploration of Susquehanna river towns, and provide technical assistance to river town communities for revitalization initiatives.
About the Pennsylvania Humanities Council
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) connects Pennsylvanians to each other through stories, ideas, and experiences that can change lives and transform communities. PHC champions and redefines the role the humanities play in educating citizens and strengthening communities through programs that create pathways for learning and creativity, spark dialogue and civic engagement, and encourage diversity of expression. An independent partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, PHC is part of a network of 56 state humanities councils that spans the nation and U.S. jurisdictions. Learn more at pahumanities.org.
About the Orton Family Foundation and Community Heart & Soul
With its Community Heart & Soul™ method, the Orton Family Foundation empowers people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural and economic vibrancy of communities. The Foundation assists the residents of small cities and towns in the use of the Community Heart & Soul™ method, a barn-raising approach to community planning and development that invites residents to shape the future of their communities in ways that uphold the unique character of each place. For more information visit orton.org