Hello Community Development Colleagues,
As we face challenges with our work, we need to maintain a positive outlook as we show the difference we make. We need to be accountable for our work, focus on deliverables, outcomes, successes, acknowledge shortcomings, and understand areas which need improvement. We are faced with many pressures, deadlines, problems with projects, communication, relationships, and more--it can seem overwhelming at times. At the same time, we do our best, have great passion for what we do, and shine. I think one of the most important aspects of community development work involves balance--balance between being bold with what we do, being thoughtful in acknnowledging others, and celebrating success appropriately. We all have different approaches, different ways of understanding the world, what is going on, and expectations. I am quite sure that each person reading this has a slightly different interpretation of this message. Part of the role, and challenge, in community development work is being open to these differences, and learning to work through them, whether at the community level, organizational level, or individual level. This can take time and patience, as there are always other ways of looking at things. Another challenge is knowing when to move on to action. Decisionmaking is a tricky process, and as community developers we can use facilitation skills to listen, acknowledge, check back, clarify, gain agreement, and move forward. This is a process we go through every day, and it is important to maintain that openness, while being bold and assertive, to balance interests in decisions, and move toward action which is meaningful, productive, and rewarding. As we approach the Community Development Society (CDS) and National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) Conference; Bold Partnerships, Moving Mountains Together, June 11 - 14, 2017 in Big Sky, Montana we all undoubtabley have challenges, whether it be in research or practice, we all have "learning opportunities". I am very much looking forward to the CDS NACDEP Conference in Montana to learn--to see the wonderful colleagues I have come to know over the past decade, meet new, bright, aspiring community development students, professionals working for extension services, and leaders involved with education across the country and around the world. There is no better place to rejuvinate the mind and body than the fesh mountain air of Montana. I have been to Big Sky and can assure you it is a place to appreciate, especially with the many people who share a passion for community development. It will be an opportunity for reflection, rejuvination, sharing, learning, and moving forward with new understanding, skills, and patnerships in the traditional spirit of CDS and NACDEP--two organizations with a rich history in community development. We have over 300 people registered with more coming. Join the crowd, be bold, make new friends and partners, cliimb to the moutain top--or take the tram. I hope you decide to make the trip to Big Sky, and you find this message insightful, helpful, and inspiring to be the best you can be in your work, and person. Be bold, thoughtful, and celebrate!