Leadership Victoria celebrated our 15th graduating class in the Community Leadership Development Program last Wednesday. While there will be more pictures and another blog post coming about that, today I want to share something that makes me really proud to be part of the Leadership Victoria family as Executive Director.
Each of our four Community Action Project teams made a presentation about their projects, and as I listened and watched their stories, something really important stuck out to me: the many new partnerships that have formed this year through these projects. While often the eye is drawn to the tangible result of the projects (life skills training, bikes, benches, and a garden), a longer-lasting positive impact for the community comes from the partnerships and new relationships among organizations and people in the community.
This morning, as I was downloading some of the photos from Team DiverCity's "Happy Half-Birthday Challenge" and Sanctuary Garden project at Jeneece Place, I saw how this team had connected partners as well as sponsors. Here's a photo from their April 23 work party at Jeneece Place, showing the different groups of volunteers who came together from BC Transit, John Howard Society's Bladerunners Program, the Boy Scouts of Canada, Victoria FireFighters (IAFF Local 730), and Help Fill a Dream Foundation. I attended the grand opening of the Sanctuary Garden and found many more partners as well, including the landscape architect, landscaping companies, Bartlett Tree Experts, Hothouse Marketing... and so much more. This was what inspired this blog post.
Turning my attention to our other three Community Action Project teams, I saw evidence of partnerships aplenty. For Team Pedal Empowerment, they brought together the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and Anawim House, creating a collaboration to put bikes, bike safety training, helmets, and locks into the hands of Greater Victoria residents who are building new lives for themselves. Many bike stores and community supporters have become aware of the opportunity and impact created when they work together to solve a challenge: helping people get around our city independently as part of a healthy, strong lifestyle.
Team Bench Strength brings together students at local elementary schools to build friendships and "boost" each other through daily kindnesses. Their project, Booster Benches, provides a visible reminder of the important of positive relationships and social interaction in a healthy life. It's also getting the habit of partnership and working together started at an early age.
And last but certainly not least, Team Inclusive-Us brought together musicians, chefs, bankers (er, credit-union-ers?), housing specialists and so much more to offer a day of life skills training for youth in the West Shore. They worked alongside the Saanich and Victoria Youth Councils, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria, and many other organizations to explore, plan, organize, and deliver this day. It's created a model that can be used again and again.
From my desk at Leadership Victoria, I hear about these projects in the planning phases and catch glimpses of the teams as they put their heart and souls into their projects through the fall and spring. At our graduation celebration in May, I finally get to see what came together, and feel immense pride and gratitude... not just for the teams and their coaches, but also for all of the wonderful organizations, companies, and individuals who have entered into these partnerships with open hearts.
One of the signs of a healthy community is how well it enables multi-sectoral collaboration. We are all inter-related, and need to bring our knowledge, expertise and resources together in response to our challenges and concerns. The Community Action Projects are each unique, but share the common thread of building partnerships towards a healthy community.