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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Tuesday May 21st 2024

Now Begins the Process of Staying Together

backyardUpdate on the Backyard Initiative

Many of the Allina Backyard Initiative participants are describing the process of community engagement as “trustworthy”,” “deeply instructive,” “nurturing,” “Informative” and completely surprising.

The Process
Since December of 2008 there have been 11 dinner dialogue gatherings. Each gathering has held the attention of 28 ”“ 70 people of various ages. The youngest is 6 years old and the oldest is a 74 year old resident. The 74 year old resident told the story of organizing the residents in his apartment building after being so inspired by the knowledge gained while attending 8 of the 11 dinner meetings and participating on the very active Assessment Team.

He left one of the Assessment meetings fired up. He had seen several drug dealers on the block where he lived. He was feeling frustrated and angry because as he stated, “no one was doing anything” suddenly he realized that the no one included him. He stood up and started knocking on doors inside his building asking people to come together for meetings about the drug dealer. He then called the SAFE office, then the councilperson”'s office, the mayor”'s office. Each office staff provided support and encouragement and within two weeks the house where the drug activity was happening was closed. This is a man who is now committed to moving his own fears about challenging unwanted forces in his community. He attributes his sense of ownership as well as his sense of empowerment to this process of building an engaged community of people for Allina to partner with in the “Backyard.”

This story illustrates how the engagement process works. In 9 months the people involved have redesigned the community health assessment, including the methodology and the instrument to perform the assessment. Over 20 Listening Circles were organized facilitated and documented by residents; a survey of 750 households is being implemented in October and November. All the questions were created by residents and will be carried out by residents. This on top of adopting a new definition of Health and engagement vision and writing up 5 prevention strategies, which they want to see implemented over time.

The groups have come together, walked around together, worked together are now beginning the process of staying together. The next several meetings October through December will focus on sustaining participation, active engagement and the partnership between Allina and the Community groups of the Backyard.

This partnership will now actively build health improvement strategies which will sustain healthy people and their families in the community.

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