About two dozen Community Heart & Soul volunteers packed the Upper Chichester Township municipal building’s conference room on the evening of October 22nd. Representatives from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) and the Orton Family Foundation were there to celebrate Upper Chichester’s work so far and offer training for the second phase of the process.
“You all really understand the people-centered aspect of the Heart & Soul process,” said Mimi Iijima, PHC’s Director of Programs and Special Projects, who led the training.
Mimi Iijima, PHC’s Director of Programs and Special Projects, led the training.
In the short time since Upper Chichester officially joined PHC’s growing network of Pennsylvania Heart & Soul communities, team members have organized a large base of volunteers into committees that represent neighborhoods and community interests. They also created a robust web site and became active on social media. Excitement has been building in the Township as was evident when over fifty people attended their first work day. The Heart & Soul process has fueled ongoing discussions about local assets, which has in turn strengthened networks and built momentum for the project.
“Going through the first phase of Heart & Soul made it so clear that Upper Chi residents want to be a part of the planning and economic process,” said Barbara Kelley, project coordinator. “Everyone is working together to make a difference.”
The evening’s training focused on the upcoming second phase of Community Heart & Soul — the nitty gritty of story gathering. In a series of group activities and lectures, attendees learned ways of approaching people, how to ask questions, and how interviewers can be conscious of their own biases. The training for the second phase is intensive because the stories gathered will ultimately be put at the center of Upper Chichester’s future community development plans.
“We are super excited about the second phase,” said Kelley. “The gathering of stories will really make the community come alive.”