If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that I’m a champion of the Department of Neighborhood’s (DoN) People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE). This pilot program, which is designed to provide leadership training for new community leaders, kicked off on April 26. Classroom space has been donated by Seattle University. (Thank you, Seattle University, you are so good to the City!)
I asked District Coordinator Ed Pottharst of the South Region Team for a report on how things are going, and here’s what I learned:
At the lively first session, three facilitators led discussions of “Approaches to Leadership,” Jim Diers (community-building consultant/instructor and former DoN director), Kate Joncas (Downtown Seattle Association), and Jesus Rodriguez (Nonprofit Assistance Center and the City’s Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison program).
City staff from three departments introduced the group to the “inclusive outreach and public engagement” tools that the City uses to ensure that all of Seattle’s communities are heard from.
The 30-person class of emerging leaders come from all parts of Seattle: 17 of the 30 participants are from under-represented communities or from those neighborhoods that are traditionally less involved in civic processes. One of the goals of PACE is to reach out to these communities and provide them with tools and confidence to make significant new contributions in ways that are meaningful to them.
Five participants also serve as City liaisons to various ethnic communities: a world mapping exercise showed participants trace their parentage/ancestry to Morocco, Argentina, Portugal, Romania and more.
In addition to the structured time with facilitators and staff, participants engaged in plenty of spontaneous interaction in small groups and during the breaks. People eagerly shared their challenges and successes; clearly they enjoyed sharing their experiences and what new techniques they were learning about becoming more effective leaders and organizers.
PACE will have six more monthly sessions on topics including public speaking, effective community organizing, and event planning. The learning is hands-on: participants are assigned homework, mentoring, and will undertake their own community projects as part of the program.
As DoN Director Bernie Matsuno said in her opening remarks, convening this diverse group of enthusiastic community volunteers – who will time work closely together over the next seven months – is an incredible learning opportunity for all of them, and that’s on top of the skills they will acquire from the curriculum. I am thrilled to think how the city-wide network of capable new leaders is being extended, right now!
For more information about PACE, contact Christa Dumpys, email@example.com, 684-4812.