The Community Catalyst Conversations series convenes area residents to engage issues challenging our communities and connect on strategic actions to address those challenges.Each session includes someeducation on the issue, discussion and a chance for participants to meet in strategy circles to plan. Area non-profit leaders working on that issue are invited to make short presentations. Since launching in January of 2015, the Community Catalyst Conversations have tackled such issues as racism, homelessness, addiction, immigration, food waste, aging and activities for youth. The Conversations are held monthly, 8-9 months of the year, alternating between the Ferguson Library and UConn Stamford, who partner with the Interfaith Council to offer this series.
- We begin each session with information to frame the issue, often offered by a UConn faculty. Where a short film or documentary is available, we show that.
- We hear from non-profit leaders working on that issue, inviting them to describe their agency’s approach, and to state their aspirations as well as give a quick overview of obstacles to success. They can also propose actions for which they would like assistance.
- Then we invite discussion in facilitated “strategy circles.” Using the principles of the Harwood Institute’s community engagement model, we invite participants to articulate what successful change in the given issue would look like, and to brainstorm strategy actions to achieve that vision.
- There is a report-back from each group and Q&A with speakers (we leave this till after the groups have met, so that participants engage the issues on their own)
- We are developing follow-up sessions for those who want to do a deeper dive on a given issue, and/or develop an action idea.