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What is the purpose of the BYI Communications CHAT?

“This CHAT works to lessen and ultimately eliminate the divide between people who have information and those who do not so that everyone has the opportunity to be engaged in a healthy community.”

BYI festival display

What is the role of the Communications CHAT as part of the BYI?

The BYI Communications CHAT is a resource to the BYI in two important, general ways

1. Internal to BYI: Assists in CHAT teams learning about the activities of other CHAT teams and to discover ways to lend expertise to each other.  This internal communication helps to strengthen the relationships between individuals within the BYI and thereby strengthens the entire Backyard Initiative.

2. External to the BYI: We also support the CHAT teams communicating in their own words and ideas to the 42,000 residents and 15,000 households in the Backyard area.  The Communications CHAT continues to employ methods of conveying what the Backyard Initiative is, its history, its governance structure, and the knowledge it is producing.

A few examples of these internal and external strategies include:

• Beginning in April 2013, through our partnership with Alley Communications, we featured a specific CHAT team or BYI activities on the back page of The Alley Newspaper.  This monthly feature is named, “The BYI Back Page”.  Each of these BYI Back Pages is produced by members of a particular CHAT.  This opportunity provides key learning in how to communicate with other community-based media, build on the assets of the CHAT, and communicate in a CHAT’s own words rather than being represented by others.

• We helped to coordinate a show featuring 3 BYI CHATs on the Truth To Tell KFAI radio show   

• The Communications CHAT represents the BYI at neighborhood events such as: Midtown Phillips Festival, Midtown Global Market Music Festival and Allina Volunteer Fair.

• BYI Back Pages and the Definition of Health have been turned into posters so that CHAT teams can communicate about their BYI work at community and cultural events more specific to the individual CHAT teams.  These posters and/or special features are, in turn, used to promote activities of the BYI and the CHAT.  The 4-page special gardening insert in September of 2015 is an example of this feature.

• Photo documentation has been done at many events to help BYI participants communicate in other ways than the written word.

• An inventory of available meeting space in the BYI area is being compiled for publication in early 2016

Who is part of the Communications CHAT and how is Alley Communications involved?

Two people serve as lead contact people for the Communications CHAT: Susan Gust and Harvey M. Winje.  Both of these individuals have been involved with the Backyard Initiative since 2008. As a trusted community-led media source, The Alley Newspaper was viewed as a means to help to communicate the principles, activities and the comprehensive work of the Backyard Initiative.  Alley Communications, the publisher of The Alley Newspaper, holds very similar values as those of the Backyard Initiative————valuing the knowledge, expertise, assets and skills which are collectively held within the Community.  By raising up this knowledge in our own voices, we have every possibility of creating a healthier community.

On December 16, 2015, Alley Communications hosted an event in our community’s only castle!  It was built by the Turnblad family near the turn of the 20th century.  The Turnblad’s were modest Swedish immigrants who greatly increased their wealth by becoming publisher’s of what eventually became the largest Swedish language newspaper outside of Sweden.  Today, the American Swedish Institute is a gathering place for all people to share experiences around themes of culture, migration, the environment and the arts, informed by enduring links to Sweden.

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The Alley Newspaper hosted this event to celebrate its 40th year of publication.  For this event, The Alley Newspaper launched an exhibit called: The Alley Newspaper Is…….  There are many pieces to what is part of the vibrancy and purpose of The Alley Newspaper and one of those elements is promoting community health.  However, this connection to community health resides in the important relationship between The Alley Newspaper, the BYI Communications CHAT and ultimately, the Backyard Initiative whose work is to increase the health of the community through social connection and social cohesion in order to promote health empowerment and advocacy.

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