On the Road: Northern Nevada

Baby Horse This autumn’s travel season began with a trip that was barely a gleam in anyone’s eye at the end of June. The note from Christy McGill asked this:

What would it take to bring you and Dimitri to a grass roots local conference in Silver Springs, Nevada, to be the key note speakers to 200+ volunteers, teachers, clients, students, farmers, farm workers, leaders, and human service workers who are leading our county out of poverty?

The event will be held in a school gym. This way the high school kids can join us when you speak. The schools are willing to provide an extra bus to take them home so they can stay and listen. We will fundraise for you to do this, and I think our partners will chip in as well.

Perhaps we can bring you out for the conference and then have an informal discussions about catalyzing the potential in others with small groups the following day or days. Our goal is to inspire and then follow up with our staff, volunteers, and key leaders.

Dreaming big for our little part of the world.

Christy is one of those people to whom you just don’t say no. She heads the Healthy Communities Coalition that covers several poverty-stricken rural counties in northern Nevada. Actually she doesn’t really head the coalition – she embodies the words coalition and cooperation and collaboration in her entire being. And her last line is 100% Christy – she dreams big, and then she turns those dreams into reality so consistently that it is easy to forget that Christy is a real person and not a mythical being.

So of course we said yes! (In truth, we say yes whenever any of our Creating the Future fellows invites us to be part of anything they’re doing.) What follows is a chronology of exactly what we were saying yes to, much of which didn’t arise until we were actually there.

Before I share that, though, I must share the bonus of it all. And that is that we turned this into a bit of a reunion for our October 2013 immersion course!  We knew we would get to see Deb Loesch-Griffin – who founded another community-focused org in that area, Virginia City’s Community Chest.  But then Joy Belonga decided to drive up from southern Nevada, where she works with the Cooperative Extension. And then Rebecca Hurd drove a full day from Idaho to meet up as well. Being together again with four of the eight people who had bonded intensely just a year before – well that alone was worth the whole trip.

And because so many of you have asked us over the years, “What do you guys actually do when you say you’re on the road?” the following is a chronology of our days and nights in Northern Nevada:

Horse in Street - Virginia City Friday – Sunday, September 12th – 14th
Left Tucson and drove (yes, drove) to Northern Nevada. 

Monday September 15th
Morning: Drove into town, had lunch with Christy and Freida Carbery, Healthy Communities Coalition’s Volunteer Coordinator
Afternoon: Met for 2 hours with the coalition leaders, to get to know each other. Toured the facility.
Late afternoon: Moved into the St. Mary’s Art Center, where we stayed for almost our whole time in Northern Nevada. (I could write a whole post about St. Mary’s. Perhaps I will…)

Horse and Bus Tuesday September 16th
Believing we were going to “just have a conversation,” instead wound up delivering a think-on-my-feet 2 hour mini-version of our 5-day immersion course, for the staff of Healthy Communities.

Wednesday September 17th
Morning: Met with the volunteers who run the coalition’s Silver Springs Food Pantry. Amazing experience, as the volunteers all got involved by first coming to the pantry for help. Now they run the place!
Afternoon: Met with leaders from the State of Nevada Department of Public and Behavioral Health, to discuss more collaborative and vision-based approaches to their own work, bridging the gap between government and community groups.

Horses thru Keyhole Thursday September 18th
All day: Wrote the keynote I was to deliver on Friday, worked with Dimitri to prepare PowerPoint slides
Evening: Our fellows arrived! Deb Loesch-Griffin and her husband, community organizer and poet, Shaun Griffin, hosted us for a delightful Mexican feast at Café del Rio, a surprising find in Virginia City.

Friday September 19th
All day: The THRIVE conference! Attended the conference, gave the closing keynote: “Change the Questions, Change the World!”
Dinner: Lucky us, it was Shaun’s birthday! We were all invited to his party – dinner and a reading from his latest book of poetry. A perfect evening.

Horses heading to townSaturday September 20th
Morning: Farewell breakfast with our fellows, as they headed home
Afternoon: 3 hours coaching / guiding the director of the St. Mary’s Art Center. It was such an amazing place, we wanted to help however we could!
Dinner: Christy cooked up a storm, and Freida joined us. Conversation went on and on for hours, feeling like it was minutes. Perfect in every way.

Horses in Parking Lot IMG_0098 Framed LOW RESSunday September 21st
All day: Wrote the script and produced the handbook for the workshop I’d be delivering on Monday
Early evening: Packed and moved to a hotel in Reno. 

Monday September 22nd
Morning: 3 hour workshop on “Organizational Sustainability and Collective Enoughness,” hosted by the uber-gracious Karen Barsell at United Way of Northern Nevada.
Lunch: A goodbye meal with Christy and Deb
Afternoon: 2 hour coaching with a local government official who was intrigued with Creating the Future’s approach to her own work.

Tuesday September 23rd
Packed up, and headed down the road. Took a few days of hiking and sightseeing in beautiful southern Utah before landing back home in Tucson.

It was an intense trip, which is often the case. People want to take full advantage of our being in town, and this was no exception.

The good news, beyond the trip itself, came in the form of a call with Christy just a month after our visit, where she shared all the ripples that had happened as a result of our time in her region. Groups who are convening to see what they can accomplish together. Individuals who are changing the questions with which they are leading conversations. And so much more.

All those results came from our time in Northern Nevada. And the icing on the cake was that for over a week, we got to watch wild horses roam the desert. 100% priceless, every last bit of it.

Horses at Walker Lake


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