Since our beginnings in 2001, SCOPE has invested in promoting efforts to bring about big, community-wide, positive change in Sarasota County. Along the way, we have been paying attention to what has worked and what, despite the best of community intentions, has never realized its anticipated potential. Increasingly, we have come to agree with Nabeel Hamdi, author of Small Change: The Art of Practice and the Limits of Planning in Cities (2004). Hamdi says:
“In order to do something big … one starts with something small and one starts where it counts. …[It] is about making the ordinary special and the special more widely accessible – expanding the boundaries of understanding and possibility with vision and common sense. It is about building densely interconnected networks, crafting linkages between unlikely partners and organizations, and making plans without the usual preponderance of planning. It is about getting it right for now and at the same time being tactical and strategic about later. This is not about forecasting, nor about making decisions about the future. But it is about the long range, about making sure that one plus one equals two or even three, about being politically connected and grounded, and about disturbing the order of things in the interests of change."
To help the community of Sarasota County realize its potential, SCOPE is now “starting with something small and starting where it counts” by investing in neighborhood-specific community changemakers. Residents who have decided that what they deeply care about is their own neighborhood. Residents who are actively discovering with their fellow neighbors everything that is special about the place they together call home. Residents who are forming relationships and generating conversation to make the special features and possibilities of their place more recognizable, both within their neighborhoods and throughout their broader communities, cities, and county.
Who are these resident community changemakers?
· Mary Butler of north-west Newtown – that neighborhood in Sarasota that stretches from MLK to Myrtle, from Tamiami Trail to the railroad tracks east of Lemon.
· Don Van de Krol of La France – that neighborhood in North Port that stretches from Eldron to Sylvania, from Crittendon to Alger.
· The Central-Cocoanut Neighborhood Scavenger Hunters – children of that south-west Newtown neighborhood that stretches from MLK to 10th Street, from Tamiami Trail to the railroad tracks east of Central.
These neighbors are starting where it counts – on their own home turf. Each in their own (quiet and not-so-quiet) ways is demonstrating “splendid audacity,” disturbing the order of things to bring about change for the better. As they go, SCOPE is contributing support by way of meeting space and supplies, training in community-building, and reflective consultation.
In these ways, we are together promoting efforts to bring about big, community-wide, positive change in Sarasota County.