Story of the Week 4/4/2016
by Shannon Kennelly, Revitalization & Homeownership Community Engagement Specialist with NeighborWorks of Western Vermont
At the end of February, a fellow AmeriCorps and I traveled to Atlanta, GA for NeighborWorks of America´s Training Institute. We grabbed the 5:50 AM flight from Burlington (*yawn*), and arrived in Atlanta with enough time to explore.
The training itself took place in a complex maze of hotel and conference centers, connected by enclosed skywalks that made one yearn for the crisp winter air of Vermont. The classes were lively and interesting, and we connected with people from across the country on many of the same issues that plague Vermont. Our classmates came from all walks of life - there were community members, Community Development Organization employees, government officials, and bank representatives, to name a few- and it was thrilling to learn from and share with them. It was refreshing to be in such a diverse environment with extremely dedicated people- as a white, Irish-American woman, I was often in the minority in the classrooms, and the diversity granted us all multiple perspectives on the issues we discussed.
I attended classes on Community Engagement and Organizing. In those classes, we did hands on activities and full room discussions on how to foster community engagement, create functioning collaborations, and nurture healthy neighborhoods. On Wednesday, my class did a “Block Walk” in Atlanta´s Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District. It was beautiful to experience the preservation and evolution of a neighborhood drenched in history, where historic design, affordable housing, and mixed uses merge.
We left Atlanta on Friday evening with new contacts from San Francisco’s Chinatown CDC to NeighborWorks of New Orleans. It was a great experience, and we are both reinvigorated to serve in our area as well as thankful to NeighborWorks for investing in us.
Photos by NeightborWorks of Western VT and NeighborWorks