Archives for October 2014

Hope and Housing

A large part of my job as the Management and Development Fellow is fundraising. Davidson Housing Coalition (DHC) has its two main fundraisers during the winter, before Christmas and for the Super Bowl. While planning for these fundraisers I noticed a trend. When in doubt about the name for a fundraiser, incorporate “Hope and Housing” into the title. For instance, Campaign for Hope and Housing and Holidays for Hope and Housing. This got me thinking, what do we as an organization really mean when we say “hope and housing?”

The housing part is pretty obvious. DHC has almost 60 affordable apartments targeted at lower income families and helps other families achieve their dream of home ownership, by educating them and walking them through the home buying process.

But, hope can be an abstract idea and can take various forms in different situations. In the nitty gritty day-to-day of a nonprofit, sometimes there can seemingly be little hope. The craziness, business, lack of money, juggling act, and stressfulness can take a toll. I think that anyone in the nonprofit field would admit that it is all too easy to get caught up in the daily grind. This can obscure the good work that goes on in these organizations and can sometimes make us downright cynical. Finding hope here can be tough. It can be easy to focus on the negative. It is during these times that I realize that hope is what we try to give clients and is just as important as the tangible things we provide, such as an apartment or a home repair.

Many of our clients hope for a better, brighter future in which they have stability and are self-sufficient. Safe housing, secure jobs, and financial counseling all provide the hope of achieving a better future. For instance, when single parents finally find an affordable but also safe and clean apartment for their family. Or, when a person that has worked for years on rehabilitating her credit score and stuck to a strict budget purchases her first home. Or, when a client lands the job that he has been wishing and working for since becoming unemployed. In turn, these circumstances give me hope and are what makes my job so fulfilling. After much consideration, I would say that we are in the business of “hope and housing.”

Stay tuned to hear more about our upcoming fundraiser, Holidays for Hope and Housing!

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On Route to Munich

The Greek Fellows pose with our Arts & Culture Program Director, Susi Seidl-Fox (10/22/2014).

The Greek Fellows pose with our Arts & Culture Program Director, Susi Seidl-Fox (10/22/2014).

I am on route via train to Munich after a memorable, successful trip to Salzburg, Austria. My time in with the Salzburg Global Seminar staff in Salzburg was truly priceless on both professional and personal levels. Since my first week with Salzburg Global, I have consistently emailed, called, and Skyped with our staff “across the pond” to gather or provide information on program content and development progress. Many of our projects require collaboration between the Salzburg and Washington D.C. offices. Spending time in-person with my Salzburg colleagues allowed me place faces with names, learn more about how the organization works as a whole and move current projects forward after four months of electronic exchanges.

Before I dive into my time at Schloss Leopoldskron, let me first provide some background information on Salzburg Global Seminar and how I fit into the organization. And, since I am trying to kill time on this train, I will use a fictional conversation I had with a fictional stranger sitting across from me to explain. SCENE.

Stranger: So, why are you traveling from Salzburg to Munich?

Me: I am traveling for business. I work for Salzburg Global Seminar. Have you ever heard of it?

Stranger: No, I actually haven’t. What is Salzburg Global Seminar?

Me: Ah! This is a question I am more equipped to answer after spending a week in Salzburg. So, here goes. Salzburg Global Seminar is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that convenes “current and future leaders from around the world to solve issues of global concern.” I work in our Washington D.C. office location. With a few exceptions, all of our programs are held at Salzburg Global’s Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg. And, since our establishment in 1947, we have brought together 25,000+ Fellows to tackle important questions and international issues. Today, we categorize these programs into three crosscutting clusters: Imagination, Sustainability and Justice. My position with Salzburg Global is titled Davidson Impact Fellow. 

Stranger: Oh, I think I might have heard about that organization once before… What does it mean to be the Davidson Impact Fellow at Salzburg Global?

Me: My position is a product of a partnership between Salzburg Global and Davidson College. As the inaugural Davidson Impact Fellow, I work primarily with our Development team. “What is development?” you might ask. In the non-profit sector, development means fundraising. My position is unlike any other role with Salzburg Global, as I get to work on projects for both institutional and individual giving. This month, my typical day in the D.C. office consists of me juggling research for funding next year’s programs, spearheading the invitation lists for our annual Cutler Lecture, and supporting the design of Salzburg Global’s end-of-year email series to our fellowship network. But, my so-called normal day seems to change month-to-month with our added programs. On top of my development work, I also support the Office for the President with occasional projects.

Stranger: So, how long were you at the Salzburg office and what were you doing there? 

Me: I was working in the Salzburg office over the past nine days. The main purpose of my trip was to work, observe, and participate in the pilot session of Salzburg Global’s Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI). The YCI Forum is a ten-year program that brings together 50+ arts and culture leaders from around the world to develop their vision, entrepreneurial skills, and global networks needed to advance their organizations, their causes and their communities. Simply put, the idea is to have small groups of Fellows from 10-15 “Hubs” convene in Salzburg with other Hub groups year after year. After each YCI Forum, the Fellows return to their respective Hubs with access to a stronger local and international network of cultural leaders and innovators. Our goal is to 1) provide Fellows 4 applicable skills-training workshops for professional development and 2) facilitate collaborative projects within and across the Hubs. I was involved with some of the development research for this program, so it was very exciting experience the session from beginning to end. I attended a few of the workshops and met Fellows from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Slovakia, The Netherlands, Argentina, Austria, and the U.S. I am eager to see what collaborations evolve from the YCI Forum. Next month, I will join our Baltimore participants for a follow up meeting to hear their feedback on the program and thoughts for next year.

SCENE.

(And, the imaginary stranger was very blunt and uninterested in learning more). Until next time!

The YCI group gather in the Robinson Gallery to talk about the Hubs and projects in their local communities.

The YCI group gather in the Robinson Gallery to talk about the Hubs and projects in their local communities (10/19/2014).

Argentine Salzburg Global Fellows, Florencia Rivieri and Moira Rubio Brennan, pose during their visit into town (10/19/2014).

Argentine Salzburg Global Fellows, Florencia Rivieri and Moira Rubio Brennan, during their visit into town (10/19/2014).

The view of Schloss Leopoldskron at night.

The view of Schloss Leopoldskron at night (10/20/2014).

Spiral Bound

Spiral Bound Key PremiereBefore starting my fellowship, I spent much of the summer wondering what exactly I would be doing as the “Cultural Education Special Projects Fellow” at ASC. Sure, my job description provided a glimpse of my daily responsibilities – “supports the ASC education team by providing logistical and managerial support in the area of special projects” … “manages ASC advocacy strategy relevant to special projects” … “creates data representation associated with special projects” – yet the vague language of job descriptions provided little detail of the nature of these “special projects.”

Needless to say, I was relieved when one of my first “special project” assignments gave me the opportunity to collaborate with Davidson to plan a campus screening of our arts advocacy documentary Spiral Bound: Living & Learning through the Arts.

Last summer, my boss Dr. Barbara Ann Temple, ASC Vice President of Education, partnered with Davidson to serve as an internship site for an Education Scholar.  The Davidson Education Scholars program aims to drive change at every level of our education system through the integration of workshops and immersive internships.  Barbara Ann was inspired by the program’s mission, and immediately saw an opportunity for a point of connection between these scholars and high school students from ASC’s arts-based youth development program, Studio 345. Over the course of the summer, these two cohorts examined our educational climate through intensive dialogue, team building and a trip to Washington D.C. Spiral Bound captures their experience, and throughout the film we see the Studio 345 and Davidson College students become education activists and emerging artists. While this summer program serves as the impetus behind the film’s narrative, Spiral Bound’s reveals the importance of equity, access and opportunity in public and higher education on a national level.

Planning the campus Spiral Bound screening was a wonderful first special project. I got to collaborate with a variety of campus offices and was excited to see the reaction of the Davidson community. In addition to providing me with an abundance of interesting projects, Spiral Bound served as an excellent orientation to the impact the Arts & Science Council is making in the Charlotte community and beyond.

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Reflections at Schloss Leopoldskron

Since 1947, thousands of people have been invited to retreat at the Schloss Leopoldskron for Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) programs. During their stay, our participants discuss large topics, forge new friendships with people around the world, and reflect on the work they have done and will do when they return home. Last week, I arrived in Salzburg, Austria to attend the pilot program of our ten-year long Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI). The session came to a close today. And, from my five days working, observing, and participating in the YCI Forum I became more attuned to the importance of a shared understanding of vocabulary and definitions of the selected vocabulary before diving into lengthy conversation. The participants had to pause, rewind, and ask: Do buzzwords like innovation or entrepreneur mean the same thing in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Austria, The Netherlands, Slovakia, England, Greece, and America? And, if not, what will those words mean in our discussion?

The Schloss from across the lake (10/18/2014).

Schloss Leopoldskron from across the lake (10/18/2014).

I apply this same logic to a word that has cause some confusion in my time working with SGS. The word is fellow. See the three relevant definitions below.

Fellow (fel-oʊ), n. 1. (informal) a man or a boy; 2. (usually fellows) A person in the same position, involved in the same activity, or otherwise associated with another; 3. (also research fellow) An elected graduate receiving a stipend for a period of research. Source: Oxford Dictionaries.

I have seen all three uses of fellow used in just one day in the office. Distinguishing the three from one another is important for my explaining what I do (and for the sake of my future blog posts). Definition 1 . is pretty straight forward and may be used from time to time though not often. Definition 2. is applied to the individuals who are participating or have participated in Salzburg Global programs. Our organization uses the word fellowship for our alumni network of 25,000+ fellows linked through the shared experience of the Seminar. Last, definition 3. is most applicable to me and my role with SGS. I stretch “period of research” to my one-year position in non-profit development supported by both Davidson College and SGS. Although, now that I have participated in the YCI Forum I could argue I fit both definitions 2. and 3.

More to come soon on the YCI Forum and my takeaways from the lectures, workshops, and conversations I joined.

My view of Untersberg from the Schloss Leopoldskron.

My view of Untersberg from the Schloss Leopoldskron (10/16/2014).

Transitioning to Impact

 

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Spring 2014: I am a second semester senior, on the brink of graduation, yet I still have no idea what direction I want my life to take. I am a psychology major with no intention of becoming a clinical psychologist and though I have deeply immersed myself in many extracurricular activities, none of them point me towards a particular career path. Nonetheless, after a fall full of career services appointments, information sessions and interviews, one fundamental criterion emerged from my job search: I am longing to have a sense of purpose in my post-grad life.

In fact, I am searching for this sense of purpose that permeates every aspect of campus life – from the orientation service walk to classes designed around civic engagement – Davidson fosters a connection between students and the surrounding community. While President Quillen has succeeded in coining this experience (“Transition to Impact”); this phrase simply encapsulates Davidson’s longtime commitment to preparing students for impact. The Davidson College Statement of Purpose asserts, “The primary purpose of Davidson College is to assist students in developing humane instincts and disciplined and creative minds for lives of leadership and service” – i.e. “transition to impact.”

Fall 2014: I have just started my Davidson Impact Fellowship at the Arts & Science Council (ASC). On my first day, I saw “Transition to Impact” programming in action, as Davidson Education Scholar Scott Cunningham ’16 provided me with a comprehensive overview of the importance of out-of-school time programming – a topic that will become a major focus of my own work here at ASC. During my year-long fellowship at ASC, I will be working on special projects on the Education team. While I do not know what the next year will bring, I am very excited to be a part of this program, and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences on this blog!

Leaving my Mark on the Organization by Leaving their Mark in the Community

The Carolina Thread Trail is a planned regional network of greenways, trails and blueways that will ultimately connect 15 counties, 2 states and 2.3 million people. With the tagline of “Weaving Communities Together” the Thread Trail works to link people, places, cities, towns and attractions together. The Thread Trail preserves our natural areas and is a place for exploration of nature, culture, science and history. This is a landmark project that provides public and community benefits for everyone, in every community. It is creating a community and conservation legacy that will give so much, to so many, for so long.

In my first few months as a Davidson Impact Fellow for the Carolina Thread Trail, I haveCompleted stencil 7 oaks spent most of my time learning and listening. Although the Carolina Thread Trail is an organization based so close to the college with trail segments in the town of Davidson, I was not fully aware of the organization and its mission until I heard about it through the Davidson Impact Fellows program. Within my first days at the organization, it became apparent that I was not alone in my lack of familiarity with the Thread Trail. The Thread Trail is a relatively young organization, with its beginnings in 2007. For the first years of its existence, Thread Trail staff and advocates worked with communities to establish and adopt a planned route in each county. Now, seven years down the road, the thread has over 220 miles of completed trail segments spread out throughout its footprint and two “blueway” paddling routes along the South Fork and Rocky River. Despite these resources, the fear of the lack of familiarity with the organization in the community was a central theme in my conversations with my co-workers.

My one-year fellowship with the Thread Trail will focus on measuring the current level of community awareness and work on smallprojects designed to increase that level of awareness. One of my first projects involves signage and trails. Signs are expensive, but necessary to inform trail users they are on a segment of the Carolina Thread Trail. My task was to try to research alternative ways of marking trails in a more cost-effective manner.  The result of the work so far is a pavement stencil with the Thread Trail name and logo. This stencil could be used to mark many of our paved section of trails incommunities where other signage opportunities are limited. After testing paints, my co-worker and I were able to put the first stencil on the ground at one of the Thread’s signature trails, the Seven Oaks Trail in Gaston County. Although it is only some paint on the pavement, stenciling the Thread Trail’s logo has been a tangible way my work has contributed to the goals of the organization—and made a very literal mark on some of the local communities as well.

My Place at The Mint

Wow! It is incredible how quickly the time passes. I cannot believe it has already been a month and a half at my new position of Davidson Impact Fellow with the Learning & Engagement Department at the Mint Museum.

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The Mint Museum Randolph, the site of the original branch of the U.S. Mint

Brief history: the Mint Museum was the first art museum in North Carolina and is so named because it was first installed in the original branch of the U.S. Mint. In its two locations, it is home to collections of African, Mesoamerican, European, and American art, as well as a vast collection from the Craft and Design movement.

This year, Davidson has broadened the Impact Fellowship Program with a “Build Your Own” option, an addition that I believe is an incredible way to encourage graduates to pursue uncommon fields and to ensure that they can get started in a great way. Because of this opportunity, I was able to seek out the non-profit organization that spoke the most to me and work for them. With this freedom, I am able to channel my passions, art education and the greater community, into an amazing postgraduate opportunity!

Now, just over a month in, I have found myself taking a step back and asking a few questions: What on earth am I doing? What do I hope to accomplish? and of course, Will there be enough time? I had all of these questions answered in my mind when I started the fellowship in August, but as a typical Davidsonian, I have made my goals much larger than 28 weeks can handle.

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The Mint Museum Uptown, home to the Craft + Design Collection

What am I doing?

As I am the first fellow at the Mint Museum, this is a very valid question. I have signed on to be the Learning & Engagement Fellow, meaning that I assist anyone and everyone in the department with all features of their public programming to ensure their successand impact on the public. I work most closely with the Learning & Engagement Programs Coordinator on the museum’s Docent Program. I help organize training materials, am researching and reorganizing the structure of the program for efficiency, and I facilitate training sessions. Further, I am helping kick-start the Mint’s new Teen Initiative. Quite the exciting job!

 

What do I hope to accomplish?

Before starting this program, I came in with the intention of leaving with a complete and stable teen program series planned, a well trained and energized docent class, and nothing left to be done. Clearly, all of this is not possible. My overarching life goals of making art accessible to the community in a fun and engaging way, however, might be! In the next two weeks, I will help facilitate a teen program and an adult program, both of which are educational with the goal of engaging a hard-to-reach demographic, so I’m on the right track!

 

Will there be time?

Six and a half months is not a lot of time, especially to make the changes I envision. But, in these short 6 weeks, I feel as though I have accomplished a lot. I am already making great connections with the Mint Museum Docents, a group I believe is the face of the museum, relaying educational information to visitors and making their experience that much more fulfilling.


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Taking a step back to reassess is always good. Sometimes we get caught up in the now and forget to remember our goals in each thing we do. Though my time at the Mint Museum is short, I hope to make even the smallest difference in bringing the Charlotte community to the amazing world of art.

The Job Description (and highlights reel)

This is the spiel I’ve found myself repeating in response to the ever-prevalent post-grad prompt, “So what are you doing now exactly?”

As a woman’s health advocate at the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in Asheville, NC, I have two main jobs.

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Anita Hill

One is supporting the work of a women and children’s safety coalition of local organizations including the hospital, care providers, Asheville City Schools, the YWCA, Pisgah Legal Services, Our Voice the local sexual assault organization, and Helpmate the domestic violence agency. We are working on eliminating sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse in our community in order to make Buncombe County, as my boss often puts it, “the safest place in the universe for women and children.” I know this tagline might sound like a comic-book thought bubble, more like the kind of thing a superhero says after nabbing the bad guy than a community group mission statement, but in this case it is also an earnest goal in which this group believes. And they’re (now, we’re!) doing important work to get there. More on those efforts to come in future posts… (Did I hook you yet?)

The second aim of my fellowship is to develop an advocacy portfolio of top issues affecting the health of Western North Carolina women. In addition to scouring news articles and databases (an activity in which I’m well-versed – thank you, liberal arts education), I am reaching out to professionals working in women’s health in the region, asking them about the issues they see in their work. Eventually I’ll have a top five (or so) list of issues and compelling ways to talk about them combining data and personal stories.

So that’s my mandate. Some of my most memorable experiences so far include:

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My Turn on the Rope Swing

  • Helping Our VOICE, Asheville’s sexual assault resource center, host a lecture by Anita Hill. She’s best known for accusing Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his nomination hearings for the Supreme Court in 1991 but is also a law professor in women’s studies at Brandeis University.  If you don’t know about her or have forgotten, please google this amazing woman!!
  • Talking with the Asheville doctor who provided abortions to women for decades: whose building was bombed and threatened with package supposedly containing Anthrax, whose patients loved her (they often said, “We didn’t expect you to be so nice”), and who closed her doors in July.
  • Visiting Davidson graduate, peace-corps alum, and community activist, Monroe Gilmour who invited me to his home in Beautiful Black Mountain to talk about women’s health, to eat lunch, and to have a go on the rope-swing in his backyard.
  • Attending an HIV/AIDS conference in Winston-Salem!
  • Helping throw a fashion show in which local designers created pieces made from
    condoms (below are a few of my favorites).

Big thanks to the many people supporting Davidson Impact Fellows including, in my case, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Be sure to keep checking out this blog to see what my fellow fellows and I are up to as the year progresses.

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Dorothy Poses

One of the Most Popular Dresses

 

 

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