As you know, aha! Process collaborates with Move the Mountain, an organization dedicated to reducing poverty in our lifetime. Their Circles Initiative uses constructs from Bridges Out of Poverty and Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by World. This week we received an update from a Circles community, South Central Community Action Programs, Inc., in Gettysburg/Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. This is the update the executive director gave us:
“Just wanted to share a few things that happened in our Circles Initiative this month:
· Our families have been working on putting their stories together to share with the community. Yesterday Gettysburg College held a lunch session to hear from the “voices of those working to get out of poverty.” One of the students at the college who is an ally and four of our families were able to attend and present their stories. It went incredibly well—people were astounded at how well they were able to connect with the group and talk about the issues and difficulties of working to get out of poverty. We had people say they had no idea it was so hard to get out. The president of the college was astounded—she personally stopped to thank each of the women for coming to share, saying it had a strong impact on her. We were told “they should take this on the road” because it was so eye-opening. They did an amazing job (and you should have seen how nervous they were, but you would never know it based on their presentation). It was one of those great moments! A number of people said they now want to be a part of Circles. I believe the college taped it. I will let you know once we see it.
· One of our Circle Leaders had a child hit by a car in her neighborhood. The child was OK, but after checking, the Circle Leader realized their were no stop signs at the alleys, visibility was restricted due to parked cars, and she felt sure this would happen to a child again. She prepared her case. She called the borough to find out the process of having signs installed. She went to a zoning board hearing. She said, “I watched the way others presented their information and used the same format.” They told her they would investigate and get back to her. The borough council representative for her ward came to meet with her and identify the problem. Together they identified what would correct the problem. Two parking spots were eliminated, and signs were put up. The Circle Leader also shared with the council representative some of her ideas on cleaning up the neighborhood. He was so excited, they are now making plans to work together on this plan. All of this on her own—she told us as part of “New and Good”—and she called me the day the signs were going up. She was so excited to be making a positive impact on her community!
Just wanted to share these two things. It is amazing what has occurred here in one year!”
-Ruth Weirich, Vice President, aha! Process