All-America City Award Finalists Stewardship in Action: Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Photo by Leila Boujnane on Unsplash
Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the prestigious All-America City Award. The 2020 All-America City Award Finalist communities focus specifically on enhancing health and well-being through civic engagement.
Stewardship is a core concept for The Commons community and our collaborators working to advance equitable wellbeing across the country. When applied to our collective work, the concept describes leaders—both people and organizations—who take responsibility for forming working relationships to drive transformative change in regions and communities. Stewards also have a vested interest in promoting an equity orientation in regard to purpose, power, and wealth:
"Stewards of well-being and justice are people and organizations who share responsibility for working across differences to expand the vital conditions all people and places need to thrive." —Thriving Together: A Springboard for Recovery and Resilience in Communities Across America, Introduction
All-America City Finalist communities exemplify how stewardship is best accomplished when folks work together across differences and sectors to expand the Vital Conditions that all people and places need to thrive. Learn more about the civic engagement practices that made the community of Hopkinsville a 2020 finalist:
After years of hearing from the public and business community alike about increasingly negative perceptions of Hopkinsville, the local Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Economic Development Council initiated efforts to re-envision the Hopkinsville brand to spur growth for the city.
The group selected a vision plan steering committee, raised $70,000 in funding through community donations, and hired a consulting firm to guide and facilitate the process. The steering committee worked to promote the plan process widely and broadly throughout the community via focus group meetings, one-on-one interviews and paper and online surveys; feedback was used to establish four primary goals. A speaker’s bureau of vision plan advocates was also developed to continue two-way communication, build support, and make adjustments based on ongoing citizen feedback. Interested community members were invited to join task groups developed around each of the four goals to set benchmarks for advancement and work toward measurable progress in each area. Learn more here.
Steward Snapshot: Tab Brockman and Chris Jung
Tab Brockman and Chris Jung, community leaders from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, joined Commons Good podcast host Stacy Wegley for a conversation about stewardship, belonging, and connection. Check out the excerpts to learn more about their experiences--and click on the audio clip to hear directly from Tab and Chris.
Chris and Tab have both lived in communities across the country, but have embraced Hopkinsville as home.
Chris: A community like Hopkinsville allows you not only to have a voice, but also to have a legitimate impact and a real ability to affect change--and to help bring things along with the vision of the rest of the community. We’re not from Hop-town, but we both embraced the place immensely because we see its potential.
Tab: We are very fortunate and that we have a city and county government that work together and that spirit of collaboration empowers so many things. And I would say it's even an important reason that both of us are here in Hopkinsville. So it has enabled so much.
Moving toward a shared community vision has meant hard work and deep engagement. It also means working together to elevate ideas from the community, for the community.
Chris: [Community members] want to work; they want to play. How can we create spaces where people feel safe, where they feel like they have access to opportunities, where they feel like their children can grow up in a good situation? Having that input from real people who are affected by it and who also affect the change within those departments was really a neat process. Our Chamber of Commerce actually presented that vision plan last week and really kind of got the ball rolling for people to see: Here's what the community wants to see here.
Tab: We focused on the diversity of our community because Hopkinsville is one of the most diverse communities in the state of Kentucky. When we embrace that, we bring different thought processes, different backgrounds, different experiences together--it makes all kinds of things possible. 1500 - 2000 different inputs from folks for all the things they'd like to see within the community. Our consultant was just blown away by the input. That’s what will make a difference: When you're hearing from that many different people.