On Wednesday, April 20, community leaders from across the Plateau joined with Sewanee faculty and students and board members of the South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) for the “Make Lasting Connections” symposium. The event was cosponsored by SCCF and the University of the South’s Office of Civic Engagement.
Many participants responded positively to the program. One participant wrote in the evaluation, “It was an important moment for the health, wealth, and well being of the mountain, and a step forward in improving our social connections and networking. I have already made connections that were not possible without the symposium.”
Speakers emphasized the idea of collaboration throughout the day, from an inspiring interactive talk by Karen Proctor to open the conference, to a presentation of model community projects from the Winrock International team of Linsley Kinkade, Michelle Perez, and Jordyn Williams. Whitney Kimball-Coe of Rural Assembly delivered the keynote address. Following the address, Katie Goforth led participants in an exercise modeling collaboration.
“The program had a really nice arc to it,” observed Allie Cahoon, a Monteagle resident. “Karen Proctor’s talk really helped us understand leadership and collaboration at a personal level—the attitudes you have to cultivate to collaborate with others. The Winrock team then showed us how do to that at a community-wide level and showed some great examples of successful communities in Arkansas. And then Whitney Kimball-Coe brought those lessons together by talking about how community-wide work has an impact on individuals. It was inspiring.”
A highlight of the day was a training session for organizations to compete in a $50,000 grant round offered by SCCF. The “Make Lasting Connections” grant is a new grant round offered in celebration of SCCF’s 10th anniversary and awarded for collaborative projects. Applications will be accepted this summer from multi-organizational teams working on a significant challenge. “Some of you may have come knowing exactly how you would respond to this opportunity, and some of you came with no idea at all. We hope both those conditions change as you talk to others in the room,” said Tom Sanders, executive director of SCCF, in opening the symposium. Evaluations from participants showed that those goals were met.