Many hands make light work. ~Haya Proverb
Everything has a beginning, some type of genesis. Every movement, effecting change, has a foundation laid by courageous and visionary leaders. On Friday, September 16, for an entire day, followed by a half day Saturday, September 17, Proviso Partners for Health (PP4H), held its inaugural retreat. This electrifying event took place in Oak Brook, IL, at The Hyatt Regency located on the picturesque campus of Hamburger University. You may wonder, why a coalition designed to create healthy food and active living environments had its retreat at Hamburger University. Comment if you are curious, for now, let’s say this retreat allowed us to fail forward.
Major issues were addressed during the day and a half of authentic and challenging discourse, strategic planning, and vision casting. We worked on building a consensus around our shared vision, mission, catalyzing us to advance.
On Day 1, Adam Becker (in picture above), from the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), gave a stirring and evocative presentation, making a call to action. The discussion will be followed up with a session to concretize plans to integrate new ideas into actionable steps.
Later, we engaged in constructive group activities facilitated by Kate Ebersole (seen in banner at top of the page) of KEE Concepts and Consulting, based in Cattaraugus County, New York. In two exercises, Kate walked us through effective ways to increase empathic understanding between our Black, White and Latino partners. Her powerful initial session allowed us to identify a set of communication norms that will aid us in growing as a coalition. The top 5 communication norms were:
1. Listening respectfully
2. Openness to thinking, being, learning and communication
3. Active participating/making it a priority and doing it
One attendee, Cynthia Chaidez, commented “ Kate Ebersol’s activity: “Developing Our Land” brought everyone together to answer the difficult questions of race that no one wants to answer. During the exercise I felt uncomfortable and I could feel the tension in the room. I feel this activity was an eye-opener for all those involved. Tough questions need to be addressed.”
In addition, we uncovered our need to reduce field jargon; increasing our intentionality and understanding of institutional concerns over the appropriate assigning of credit and acknowledgement for the work done within the coalition. Our second and final day was a very hands-on and productive day of developing our first drafts of our logic models and evaluation plans with MaryAnn Mason and Adam Becker from CLOCC.
For our first retreat, many of the participants left feeling energized, more committed to our work within the coalition. Being provided the tools for more effective communication, capacity building, and executing strategy, PP4H is positioning itself to go to the next level. Whereas there’s always room for growth, or growing edges, the retreat was a confidence builder and competence enhancer.