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Connecting in Lanark, Leeds & Grenville

By Lois Dewey, Coordinator-Healthy Communities, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville

The Healthy Community Partnership strategy has provided a platform for the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Healthy Communities Partnership (HCP) “to connect and collaborate” across their tri-county area. Since October of 2010, I have worked with a core group of members to plan and orchestrate an extensive community consultation and engagement process.

buildrelationshipsThe HCP Stewardship Group and I have worked with HC Link staff and consultants to design a community-based planning process that has served to connect community members from diverse sectors across our 22 municipalities. At our first community planning meeting, 85 community partners came together to provide input on a draft community profile, which later set the context for choosing recommended actions and policy priorities. Kim Hodgson from HC Link worked with us to clarify “what we could potentially accomplish and how to structure the day.” The day was a great success. People who were doing similar things in the tri-county area have connected, and that is good. I have connected with, among others, the local Children and Youth Planning Councils and that has led to further connections; these expanding circles of connections take you where you need to be.

Later in our community planning process, HC Link consultant, Jeff Kohl, worked with us to facilitate a priority-setting planning session. While we had already invested time and energy in working with a consultant to choose locally relevant criteria, Jeff used his excellent facilitation to guide us through this often complex process. Jeff is a people person; when the process could have come to a stall, he pointed the way to common ground and helped us move on.

“Making connections” is a common theme that I speak about in my coordinator role, and it was important for the Stewardship Group to understand “who was connected to whom, and in what way” within our community.

To this end, I worked with HC Link staff member Robyn Kalda to undertake a network mapping process which ultimately provided a visual “map” of the different connections people and organizations had with each other. It has been very useful in identifying potential constellation members and partners.

With the inclusion of diverse partners in the initial planning process, and the relationship-building and connections that continue to be made, we are well-poised to begin implementing our strategy.

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