Editor’s note: This post was written by Heifer’s USA Program Officer Larissa Barry
As a part of the exciting work in the Seeds of Change Project, the Heifer USA team hosted a training in each of the Arkansas and Appalachia project areas in mid-June. Heifer staff from the United States Program including Tamidra Marable, Gretchen Schirmer, Senchel Matthews, Jeffrey Scott and Larissa Barry traveled to each of the trainings to bring our individual and collective expertise to the communities. Working with the growing community coalitions, we guided the communities through a process of collective visioning and then a discussion on the mechanics of project design.
In Arkansas, the training was held Thursday, June 14 in Forrest City. Over 20 community members attended from across the nine-county region that makes up Seeds of Change. Working through a participatory process, groups worked to create a visual representation of their collective vision. They used pictures and words from magazines to show what they expect from their participation in Seeds of Change. The themes across the collages included hope, change, family, healthy environment, food for all, inclusiveness and success.
The training continued in Appalachia on Tuesday, June 19 in Boone, North Carolina, in a similar fashion. There were just over 20 participants representing the five-county region in the High Country of Appalachia. Many of the themes that came out of their collective visioning exercise were similar to those from Arkansas. Some of the new ideas were that we are on a long journey, the need for quality food, work being trusted for generations and thinking about people from before birth to death.
When Heifer works in communities, we believe strongly in the knowledge and power that comes from the collective of ideas and experience from the community. We believe that communities are in charge of their destiny and that they are the only ones who know what is right for them. By guiding groups through this process of collective visioning, we are helping them articulate what they want for a brighter tomorrow. I was honored to be a part of this important work.
Help fund Heifer’s work in Arkansas and Appalachia to help us bring a brighter tomorrow for more communities, families and individuals in our own backyard.