October 9, 2017 Carly Rospert

Ideas to Implementation: 5 Community Strengths Projects

At the end of April, eight Madisonville residents pitched ideas on how to activate strengths in the Madisonville community to a room of 150+ of their friends and neighbors. For many project leads, getting up in front of their peers to share their idea and ask for support seemed like the hardest part of the process.  But when the dust of ‘Pitch Night’ settled with five projects selected to move forward, the hardest part truly started: implementation.

We are over halfway through the implementation of the five Madisonville strengths projects and incredible work happening throughout the community.  Check out the progress made thus far!

Madisonville Cooks

Strength-based cooking classes for the people of Madisonville! The Madisonville Cooks youth cooking camp and adult cooking series are designed to introduce youth and adults to key cooking concepts and their personal character strengths, which can help them in the kitchen and in life!

In June, project lead Kristen St. Clair introduced eight Madisonville youth to cooking and strengths during the Madisonville Cooks Youth Cooking Camp.  The class explored strengths like bravery, creativity, gratitude, and zest through the lens of cooking. In September, Kristen held and adult cooking course focused on teaching Madisonville adults how to cook nutritious, economical meals for their family and to increase their confidence in their own strengths and skills in the kitchen and in life.

Strong Strides

Instilling pride and positivity to Madisonville with Strength Flags and Strength Sidewalks! An abundance of positive messages can help bring together Madisonville residents from all backgrounds to recognize the strengths that exist within each individual and the entire community. Strong Strides is focused on fostering this positivity through various visual reminders of the community’s strengths.

Project lead, Ginny Jefferson, and her team installed 12 strengths flags (one strength on each side) at the entrance of John P. Parker School. In the next coming months, the team will focus on continuing to spread messages of positivity by painting strengths on sidewalks throughout Madisonville. The also assisted in planning a neighborhood-wide strengths scavenger hunt where each stop was marked with a strengths flag.

Simply Fresh Farmers Market

A place to buy fresh, healthy produce in a neighborhood food desert! Simply Fresh Farmers Market will be a strengths-based venue for local and regional growers to sell their produce for Madisonville residents to enjoy.

Project leads Kathy Garrison and Terri Henry-Haden have been meeting with local and regional growers to build partnerships for the Simply Fresh Farmers Market. Focused on increasing local healthy food options, the team is working to establish a strong partnership with the local Madisonville 500 Gardens program to create an easy process for neighbors to not just buy produce, but also sell extra veggies from their home garden. Signage and activities within the farmers market will represent the neighborhood’s strengths.

Abandoned Lots to Pocket Parks

Transforming abandoned spaces to usable places! Abandoned Lots to Pocket Parks is working with the community to redesign three lots into community parks that represent Madisonville’s strengths.

Project lead Alex Smith has obtained permission to make improvements on three lots in Madisonville and has engaged the community to develop designs that build on the space’s unique qualities and the memories neighbors have of that space.  Each pocket park will have a character strength identified and represented in the design. Work has begun to remove invasive plants and the team is working to install new benches and native plants to get ready for a Pocket Park celebration event.

 Curiosity through Chess:

Connecting neighbors through chess! Curiosity through Chess brings together Madisonville youth and adults to learn about each other through character strengths and the game of chess. The movable, hand-crafted chess tables will activate spaces to promote curiosity, safety, strengths, and connection in the community.

Project lead Ms. Toni Tanks and the Madisonville Youth Community Council worked with residents to build five chess tables that will be placed throughout the community. The team also hosted two community chess clinics in August that brought together Madisonville community members to explore the game of chess, and their strengths. In September, the Curiosity through Chess team celebrated the completion of all five tables with a neighborhood chess celebration that helped neighbors make new connections and gain new skills.

You can add huge value to these projects.  If you would like to get involved, email Carly Rospert at Rospert.carly@mayersonacademy.org and we will connect you with the right individuals.