One afternoon in mid-March, a dozen members from the Barrington, Edgewood, and Providence Villages met in a small room to grapple with a dilemma. Just weeks beforehand, their three Villages had been forged together, creating The Village Common. All fully expected a robust rollout of programs to serve their distinct communities. Few of them knew what Zoom was, much less that for the foreseeable future an online program would substitute for all of the in-person community-building events being planned.
The representatives from the three Villages who met that day continue to meet each month as the Coordinating Council. That Council was created to sustain the equally new sisterhood, The Village Common. That each Village within the Common has prospered, it is fair to say, is due to those leaders (even though all of us still struggle with Zoom!). Jo Ellen Mistarz, the Village Common’s Executive Director and Chair of the Council, put it to me this way: “The creativity and passion of these local representatives is why we have been able to survive as a vibrant community during the unprecedented challenges of 2020."
The guidebook for the Coordinating Council’s work is The Village Common’s Strategic Plan, created by our Board of Directors. But its effectiveness depends on the initiative of Council members. Edgewood Village’s Barbara Schermack explains, “The Council’s goals are to ensure that the Villages work collaboratively with each other, that we share ideas from our own Villages and learn new ideas from our colleagues, and that we continually try to improve systems and operations to serve the needs of each Village and the communities we serve.”
Laura Young, from the Barrington Village, concurs: “We come together to talk about the challenges and opportunities each are experiencing locally. Together, we help one another problem-solve, learn from each other and suggest changes when needed.”
You, dear Village member, now have the benefit of these person-to-person programs: Essential transportation observant of Covid-19 protocols, Barrington’s sunset gatherings, Providence Village’s walking group, and Edgewood Village’s diversity initiative. A host of distanced programs were also generated, such as a Mail Ballot support initiative, a directory of community resources for members suddenly discouraged from leaving home, a Snow Help program to assist liable homeowners, Care Calls addressed to Village members, special attention to keeping our non-internet users connected, and, not least, online support for your outstanding volunteers.
The mission of The Village Common has not wavered: to create and sustain an intentional community of mutual support. One year after the creation of The Village Common and the Coordinating Council, Laura Young adds: “This was a beginning we can all be proud of. I’m looking forward to 2021!”
See other articles from this series in past issues of the Newsletter HERE.