By the time Jacqueline Smith approached the stage, the auditorium was almost full. She glances around the room, looking at the diverse individuals before her. A vibrant community gazes back, identified by their name tags. By 6:00 p.m. more than a hundred people had crowded into the lecture hall, and there were dozens more still streaming through the doors.
Surprisingly many audience members are strangers. Even though they may work in the same town or are involved with Arizona State University, circumstances often prevent them from encountering one another. The dialogue increased the chances that individuals could connect with a resource or program or find a potential partner. Around me community members exchange business cards and contact information as they discuss business, sports, and summer weather. It was as though the initial sparks of collaboration were visible.
Tonight was the culminating event in a series of Communities Connect Dialogues, designed to encourage collaboration in the community. “A gap exists between our good intentions and our actions,” Smith says. “The world is full of good ideas that don’t spread quickly enough.” Together with our local and global partners, ASU plans to develop answers to the great Challenges Before Us, producing knowledge and discovery that inspire meaningful change.”
Have you ever googled “ASU and the community” or merely contemplated the university’s economic and social impact on the surrounding community?
Maybe you wondered what community means or thought about what community you belong to.
Do you want to know that your university is positively affecting its students as well as the community in which it is based?
Perhaps you inquired how you could get involved and create change.
If you’re like me, you may think about these questions on a daily basis. I find that these moments usually occur after someone inspires me, and yes, generally someone inspires me each day. Something always seems impossible until it is done. No matter how enlightened we become, we still face the realities of life. Challenges will never disappear. Fortunately, inspiration is everywhere. It doesn’t really matter how you find inspiration –it only matters that you do.
Each dialogue showcased collaboration in the community. ASU saw a need and an opportunity for change. The purpose was to ignite passion and launch new ideas. Presenters volunteered to share their stories in a rapid five minute presentation. As you might expect, one of the features of these dialogues was bringing together people that normally wouldn’t connect. For ASU, this is part of redefining who our community is. Communities have specific knowledge and resources that drive innovation and solutions. Narratives allow noteworthy opportunities and experiences to surface. Everyone has a story and a life experience that they can share to help someone that is struggling. Each dialogue demonstrated that the university was one step closer to creating the community it wished to see. A highly successful university establishes new relationships and improves existing partnerships with every event.
A passion burned deep within the hearts of the presenters. The flames could be seen throughout the desert, igniting those close to it. Passion is not something we can obtain instantly. Instead it is developed by tribulations, observations, situations, and failures we experience in life. We don’t find passion, passion finds us.
“What I found were people, people like you and me, people that needed help”
-Tim Huffman (Guerrilla Marketing: Reaching Out to Homeless Youth)
“Engage the world.”
-Odesma Dalrymple (Engineering in a Societal Context)
“Design is what you do, not what you’ve done.”
-Mark Dudlik & Andrew Coppola (The Burgeoning Phoenix Design Scene and How You Can Be Involved)
“Our role is to serve as a catalyst. Our goal is to make sure all the cities cooperate together.”
-Norris Nordvold (FRIENDS of the West Valley Recreation Corridor)
“We are the bridge that takes students into the community”
-Deborah Ball (ASU Service Learning)
“Our goal is to bring together Arizona’s brightest and innovative thinkers.”
-Tomas Carillo (Tedx Phoenix)
These quotes were taken from all four dialogues. I chose them because they demonstrate the positive direction our community is headed. At ASU there is an opportunity to do something great at a local and global level. A university is measured not by who it excludes, but by who it includes. Let’s generate hope. Let’s communicate and collaborate. Let’s embrace challenges and catalyze change. ASU cannot do it alone, but we can do it together.
Submitted by Amanda Russell