This blog post was contributed by Judie Johnson, a consultant of FOCUS St. Louis and public engagement coordinator for OneSTL. Her post is intended to be a simple beginning, to plant “a seed of potential change” and “help to cultivate the foundation for connecting conversations”. It is based on a belief that resources are both financial and relational, and that connecting important conversations in the community will yield a greater impact and more sustainable level of success.
There are many important conversations among well-intentioned St. Louisans who want to make their community more livable, healthy, vibrant and prosperous – another way I like to say this is: St. Louisans who want to nurture a place where sustainable growth can occur while being good stewards of the people, the plant and the profits. Each of these conversations comes in the form of various programs, initiatives, projects, plans – many of which seek to support a stronger regional community. It’s exciting to begin to map out these various important conversations and begin to consider: what could be possible if those conversations were in conversation? Below, I list a few regional conversations that I encounter in my work:
One conversation: For some time now, the St. Louis nonprofit and philanthropic communities have been exploring models of “collective impact” as a way of addressing some very complex, adaptive problems with the St. Louis metropolitan region. For more information, check out this one-pager on a collective impact feasibility study going on now, and a 2012 blog post from Rich Patton of Vision for Children at Risk.
Another conversation: In 2010, East-West Gateway Council of Governments led a consortium (partnership of ten regional organizations) in applying for and being awarded a federal Sustainable Communities Planning Grant. For the last two and half years, the grant has been known as the St. Louis Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD). The RPSD was a process (that included a series of housing, transportation and environmental studies, reports, projects and citizen engagement activities) that is now in the final stages of producing “OneSTL – Regional Plan for Sustainability”. Check out the OneSTL website here.
And, another conversation: Recently the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities (comprised of HUD, DOT, and EPA), which awards the planning grants, hosted a webinar and issued a capacity-building issue brief entitled “Leveraging and Working with Philanthropy”.
What other cross-sector & regional conversations are taking place? The challenge (and opportunity) for the St. Louis region is: what would happen if these conversations were intentionally connected? Plant some seeds of sustainable change that can assist with and support building our regional capacity; engage additional partner; fully represent the region and strengthen leadership by leading boldly into OneSTL: Many Communities – One Future.