Ride Connection is a wonderful organization based in Portland, Oregon that provides responsive, accessible transportation options for those in need. Soon they will be moving into their own new building into a condominium surrounded by housing options for seniors and others who use their services. It’s in a renewing neighborhood where they have not been located before.
Two years ago when Christine facilitated a retreat for the board and senior staff, the organization was a lot smaller. There was no building in the works, although it has been a dream for decades. Many years of work and some fortuitous partnerships came together to make it happen. It is now under construction.
How to use the space?
The new location is in a neighborhood. The new building has a large room in the front that they can use for their training. They wondered what else they could do with all the new space. So they decided to focus this year’s board retreat on starting to generate some ideas.
The challenge of limited space for the pictures
The retreat was held at Albertina Kerr, another affiliated nonprofit, that partners with the community to support people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges to lead self determined lives and realize their full potential. They have a lovely garden room event space. The food and service provided by volunteers was wonderful.
The challenge was the tables were small and the space was tight.
A different kind of icebreaker
You may notice each person has a piece of paper on ribbon tied around their neck. These are their introductory images that depict what each of them can offer to the team. By placing them around the neck like a badge, they were able to walk around so people on the other side of the room could see. They could refer back to them as they started working on the larger team images.
Visioning a space for Community
We asked, “what are the possibilities for using this new space in new ways?” Each person selected images to answer this, then each table discussed possibilities together. Each small group created a large image to present to the whole group.
In the afternoon, we listened to each group’s ideas. There were similarities in the values being expressed, but a whole range of ways they could put them into action. The room in the new building that was previously thought of as the training room blossomed into a whole community center.
So many options, how do you pick?
This is a dynamic organization, they have way more ideas than time or money allow them to use. Seeing how many ideas they came up with so quickly, they realized they wanted to involve the rest of the staff and their partner organizations before they narrowed them down. After all, a community space needs the input of the community. So the conversation continues.
Now they can see common language
Some themes were used over and over by the different groups. They know those words and pictures are what they can use as they start to expand the communication with other stakeholders.