What is a community? How do you help a community? Who is in charge of a community? These were some of the more difficult questions that popped into my mind last year as a Kruse Scholar. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are riddled with ambiguity and can be challenging to wrap your head around.
Fortunately, my conversations with other Kruse Scholars this past year have helped me become more comfortable with these questions. I’ve learned that every community is defined differently, every community has different priorities, and every community has different leaders. The key to building successful communities is to recognize these differences and develop flexible frameworks that can be applied to communities of all shapes and sizes.
This new understanding has helped me both inside and outside of the classroom. In school, I’ve started to approach my projects and case studies with the entire community in mind. This has helped my work to become more complete, more inclusive, and more impactful. Outside of the classroom, I’ve started to see how different community organizations can work together and create shared visions. This approach often leads to a more efficient use of resources and greater ownership of the initiatives undertaken.
My goal for this next year is to share my new understanding with classmates and colleagues. Hopefully, we can engage in exciting conversations and find creative ways to impact our communities in both the present and the future. In many ways, that is our main goal as Kruse Scholars. We want to take what we’ve learned, share it with others, and bring whole communities together.
* Learn more about Neil here: Neil Kolstad