This is So Much Bigger Than Ourselves: A Week in We Stories

All the weeks are busy but last week was busy in a particular and exciting way; our whole community was alive with activity. When you’re building a small organization or community there’s a long time where you as the founder(s) are the energy source for everything. People can help but ultimately you are fueling that process.

Growth is all about establishing and strengthening coordinated renewable energy centers across the system. Over the last year we’ve been working hard to expand our capacity by establishing these energy centers in the form of volunteer leaders, participant leaders, and now paid staff. Last week was one of the first times we were able to turn all of the lights in the house on…and keep them on.

Don’t get me wrong, last week still took everything we have, but there was so much more generative input than just the two of us. And you could feel it. Twice Laura and I looked at each other and said, “wow, this is amazing.” It is remarkable just how many people have truly committed their resources, talents and time to moving this work forward. We want to share this thrilling and humbling experience with you. Hopefully this piece: a week in We Stories will give you a sense of the kind of electricity that we are fortunate to experience.

A Week In We Stories

Like most other weeks Laura and I worked separately, together, and with others to build the organization and program. We attended to fundraising of all sorts, finances, leadership development, community building, communications, operational systems and details, partnership development, program delivery, participant engagement, curriculum development, and event planning.

Meanwhile…
Selassie Davies, our new and wonderful executive assistant continued to wade into her role and responsibilities, helping us streamline processes that help us perform at a higher level, communicate with folks who want to be more involved with us and keep our data neat and tidy.

Meanwhile…
Peichen Liu, our Brown School practicum student, analyzed and tracked engagement across our community helping us to better hone our efforts and interventions for maximum impact.

Meanwhile…
A group of participant volunteers began planning an event for our community that focuses how recent legislation and executive orders impact immigrant families in St Louis.

Meanwhile…
Another participant volunteer, after seeing many participant conversations threads about bridging philosophical and political gaps with families members, began planning for ways this group can support each other in more depth and in person.

Meanwhile…
One of our board members made a presentation about We Stories to a set of professors and administrators at Brown School of Social Work helping to identify many areas of potential collaboration and mutual support.

Meanwhile…
Our community was engaged in one of the most robust and positively challenging online conversations we’ve had yet about our role as a community in our region, the importance of accountability, what shape we should take as an organization, and what their leadership should look like within our organization.

Meanwhile…
We presented to a community of supporters for Girls on the Run, sharing more about the story of how We Stories came to be and the value of questioning conventional wisdom and silence.

Meanwhile…
A committee of 7 participant volunteers continued crafting the Give STL Day plan, which includes tapping nearly 30 more helpful souls to create and carry out their ambitious campaign.

Meanwhile…
We received a lot of positive inquiry and feedback from a KSDK interview segment on We Stories that is part of their Building Bridges series and from a mention in Rick Hanson’s ‘Just One Thing’ blog including an email from Cheryl Willis Hudson, a favorite We Stories’ author!

Meanwhile…
In Forest Park, Laura and Adelaide practiced telling our story in 15 second sound bites during a recorded a video interview for the What’s Right with the Region award ceremony.

Meanwhile…
Another participant volunteer was orchestrating the details and logistics of the first ever “We Dinners”, a set of simultaneous region-wide dinner parties for We Stories participants to mix, mingle and make meaning of their experiences together.

Meanwhile…
The five hosts of the “We Dinners” were shopping, cleaning, cooking and preparing to welcome We Stories families to their home.

Meanwhile…
A participant who works as a professor was attending a professional conference and talking about her experiences with the very researcher whose work defined much of our intervention and program design.

Meanwhile…
A group of We Stories parents who also collaborate as part of their school equity committee assembled and unveiled new We Stories kits at their PTO meeting.

Meanwhile…
One of our board members stood in line (on her birthday) for two hours with her family to meet Chelsea Clinton and present her with a We Stories bag, books, and materials.

And we closed out the week when 30 families gathered at “We Dinners” on Saturday night and discussed the impact of their participation in We Stories on themselves and their families.

All this happened beyond the regular hum of meetings with partners, advisors and consultants; beyond a full board meeting and fundraising committee meeting and assorted committee work; beyond the never-ending waterfall of emails and electronic communication; and beyond the continuous participant chatter and online engagement and activity.

This energy surge means a lot of things to us: that our reach continues to be both wide and deep; that this experience has been truly transformative for many people; and that the potential of our community is great. But most importantly, right now, to us it means that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves and that something has staying power.

And at the start of another very full week there isn’t much left to say except: Pinch me, thank YOU, & join us!

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