Tuesday, February 27, 2007

STILL ON DESPITE STORM! Green Community Forum, March 17th 1-4pm

Squamscott Community Commons Presents a Green Community Forum Saturday, March 17th, 1-4pm at Exeter Town Hall
Free to the Public

Squamscott Community Commons is holding its first public meeting to look at all aspects of sustainable building design and renewable energy opportunities for the new multi-tenant non-profit community center and YMCA to be built on Linden Street in Exeter. The public is invited to join volunteers and staff of the Commons at Exeter Town Hall on Saturday March 17th 1-4pm. This interactive forum on “green” building options, will be facilitated by Barbra Batshalom, LEED, AP, Executive Director and Founder of The Green Roundtable and Joel Bargmann, LEED, Bargmann, Hendrie + Archetype, architect of the new center.

Squamscott Community Commons aspires to be a regional model for environmental and sustainable building design and operations. This sustainable non-profit facility will be designed to reduce operating costs through energy efficient design; create healthy indoor air quality through the use of green products and energy recovery systems and reduce the impact on the environment by decreasing its consumption of carbon based and non-renewable fuels. The Green Community Forum is designed to provide an educational dialogue to increase awareness and transfer “green” ideas for both public and private use in our region.

Squamscott Community Commons is constructing a multi-tenant non-profit community center that will be home to a full-facility YMCA (with gym, indoor walking track, fitness and aquatics) and non-profit agencies that provide programs and services in health, wellness, arts, culture, nutrition, childcare and recreation to the region. The integrated and sustainable green design of this centrally located facility will enhance the participating non-profits’ capacity by providing long-term stability and reducing their operating costs. This, in turn, will allow the agencies to focus on what they do best: providing effective programs and services for our wider community.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Community Summit Feedback

On January 16th we held our third community summit attended by over 150 stakeholders who came together to aspire for a broad vision for the future community center. The stakeholders were comprised of a diverse group of community members including educators, business and corporate leaders, non profit staff and their boards, volunteers, politicians, funders, abutters, and municipal leaders. The event was facilitated by Joseph A. "Jay" Connor, J.D., M.B.A., Founder/CEO of The Collaboratory for Community Support and Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan.

Honest feedback and observations from the lively participants were captured in the attached summary of the breakout sessions. There were many comments on the provocative questions that Jay posed and the breakout questions provided an opportunity to explore the “nitty-gritty” of these questions.

With the help of Jamie Batson and Cotton Cleveland of Mather Associates, the staff and board of Squamscott Community Commons will be translating all of the important feedback into our strategic planning process, starting next week.

Working Differently- Achieving Community Solutions


1. What is your aspiration for the Squamscott Community Commons?

a. As a physical community center?

- Aesthetically & programmatically appealing to community groups, non-profit agencies, and individuals and families of all generations, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds

- Attractive, transparent, and innovative design complementing the architectural style of the surrounding community

- A physical structure as well as surrounding outdoor space that incorporates the communities desire for the following elements:
o History of the area - through architecture, graphics, exhibits, landscape
o Community interaction – community gathering spaces, community art space, comfortable environment, promoting “people-mixing” and co-mingling of all ages and economic levels
o Flexibility in design, user-friendly, good lighting, acoustically sensitive

- Is a family-friendly center:
o bringing children and families back downtown and providing better options for parenting and intergenerational activities
o ensuring an affordable and safe area in which people feel welcomed and comfortable
o simultaneous programming to allow for a family “stop”

- Serve as an environmental role model in our community through the design of the building and outdoor spaces. Educate community members on the importance of environmental stewardship, as well as the economic and health benefits of being “green”

- Promote a healthy lifestyle through recreation facilities (pool, gym, track, fitness center) and wellness programs, including health screening (diabetes, cholesterol) and nutritional programs

- Lower rent and operating costs, shared administrative and maintenance services, inter-agency training/mentoring, and one-stop shopping, all of which lead to greater achievement of agencies missions and set an example for the community of the benefits of working together, thus, creating a more vital community

- Serve as a communications hub – with a full-service resource/information center – including a Community Board to post information about jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, events, meetings, and announcements, as well as a “concierge” for available services outside and inside SCC

- Enhance community transportation services, ensuring accessibility to all demographics (physically/financially/by foot!)

b. As a catalyst to systems solutions?

Community Enlightenment
- Represent the heart of who we are as a community and what we value
- A place that changes and fulfills our community; bringing our best to the forefront and allowing us to be connected to something bigger
- Breed empathy and understanding; create energy and vitality
- Be the keeper of the community aspirations & visions

Connecting the Community
- Is a “home” for the community – a place to go, a place to get information, a place to meet people, a place to work together, a place to foster dialogue about important issues, a place of FIRST resort!

Drive developing solutions to Community problems
- Be a change agent in the larger community; provide holistic support
- Create a mechanism for continually addressing solutions to community issues
- A Community Think Tank

Beyond Governance
- SCC not landlord but broader role: responsive to needs of community as they change over time
- Guiding principles for SCC board include education component
- Community Service Organization concept that is focused on outcomes to programs
- Acknowledge there will be casualties while bridging gaps
- Equal representation for tenant agencies; tenants are more committed than “just” tenants


What do you and/or your organization needs to change in order to “work differently?”

- Continually question why the organization is doing what they do
- Provide more personal transportation, greater access, information
- Change communication structures to bigger picture

- Be willing to share information, resources, time, weaknesses
- Work together toward a common goal; more intentional collaboration
- Work together to prioritize & implement programs to get solutions
- Rewrite job descriptions so every staff makes connections
- Co-program in education – broaden the scope
- Share a person to help all groups connect
- Expand how to cross-sell; how can we do this effectively? Legally? Confidentially?

- Change our way of thinking about priorities
- Look beyond our organization’s mission to engage the community & other services

- Define outcomes and concentrate on these outcomes versus niche of their program

- Consider ourselves as catalysts for the whole region, not just our clients
- Stay focused on programming opportunities/change mindset about sharing physical space
- Provide meeting spaces for agencies who have none
- Think about all the people that don’t fall into their structured programs
- What are we not doing that we want to be doing?

- Accept that there are risks involved in change; but remember the upside of those risks

What role could the Squamscott Community Commons play in helping our community “work differently?”

- Educate the community on the relevance & importance of community engagement
- Teach the community to approach the individual programs as a synergistic organization where the sum is greater than all of the parts

- Provide a framework for the agencies to communicate with each other; facilitate between the agencies; support their collaboration efforts
- Smooth out bumps/casualties between agencies along the way (mediator)
- Draw the community in; host regular community summits (Town Meetings)
- Serve as the Communications Hub for the community center; keeping public informed
- Promote community programs (in arts, health, recreation, etc.)
- Create benchmarks: review how we are doing (accountability)

Support Organization
- Cooperative governance for a voice & idea sharing & decision making process
- Help tenants by promoting a sense of shared responsibility of success of Commons
- Recognizing community needs/gaps and working with agencies on programming to fill those needs
- Provide governance & accountability; maintenance of building/grounds
- Let the SCC board become the ‘clearinghouse’ of ideas/concerns/information that affects our towns…and help the towns become better listeners
- Provide volunteer-matching
- Host Head Start – transportation issue now
- Provide a paid grant researcher/writer/grant collaborator
- Create part-time space for government agencies to collaborate