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Posts from the ‘Saying Yes’ Category


Investing (Yourself) in Change

Photo Credit: zappowbang on Flickr

Investing yourself in change is a path to distributed immortality.  You won’t necessarily get to see your cheek bones in change, but the effects of your investment can last for generations.  They can inspire people to inspire more people.  Even if a person has no idea how a bit of beauty or solitude came into being, they might be changed by it.  We’ve all been changed by people never known to us.

Putting your shoulder to a project is a way of loving the world and its inhabitants without worrying about payback.  For those of us whose parents are no longer with us, it’s even a way to love them for what they gave us and loving ourselves for sharing it.

Hopefully you’ve heard the expression, “Pay it forward.”  Making your mark by investing your time or money in change will make the world a little different or a lot different.

Dive in.  Make a difference!  … in yourself as well as the world.


Finding Purpose

Rodin's The Thinker

Photo Credit: kakissel on Flickr

Been there, done that?  Don’t need to go back?

For many of us, personal indulgence has its limits.
It’s not a black or white issue mind you; indulgence has its places.  Still, we humans like purpose.  It’s remarkably satisfying to be helpful, kind, pivotal – any number of descriptors that mean you improved the legacy of the human race.

While American’s like our superstars, we also love that English teacher who gave us the love of learning and exploration, the coach who convinced us to try again, the stranger who anonymously inspired us and good old Granny whose internal beauty is too grand to describe.

Even the old fella sweeping the walk exudes something special – a generous commitment to keeping the community “nice.”

Whatever your skills or predilections, we hope you’ll find a place to give and that you’ll feel the importance of your gift. At Bradner Gardens there is a woman who has made cinnamon rolls for work parties for years.  You know she’s important!

Volunteer projects depend on many details to succeed: bookkeeping, weeding, neighborhood outreach, celebrations, political outreach, brainstorming, problem solving, business acumen – the list goes on and on.  Remember all of your skills when looking for purpose, and realize that every one is important and has purpose.


Yes is Where It Begins

When a person says “No,” he or she can go home and have dinner on time – nothing ventured, nothing gained.  That is the antithesis of Urban Sparks’ philoshophy. 
Saying Yes is where it begins. 

Once you say, “Yes,” the obvious question follows – “How?”
We hope you’ll take that challenge and consult us to help you succeed.   

Urban Sparks was born in a file box with YES spelled out across the front in wide shiny copper ribbon. Leaders say YES to important challenges and then work tirelessly to succeed, learning as they go. We created Urban Sparks to ease the learning curve and help citizen leaders accomplish projects for the public good: Parks, Trails, P-Patches, Artworks, Public Places, Education Programs, and more.


Heavy Lifting

Man carries heavy load

Photo Credit: M_Shahab on Flickr

Perhaps you’ve heard the sayings about 90% Perspiration and 10% Inspiration.  They apply to genius, invention, and success to name a few.  Little happens without the hard work.

All participants, whether they pull weeds, balance books, greet newcomers, make food, plan work, or lead a project, are very important to a successful project.  Projects don’t succeed without heavy lifting by many participants working carefully to make sure that every effort supports the high quality intentions for the project.

It is our sincere hope that all volunteers supporting a project feel the importance of their work, regardless of how visible their work is at any particularly moment in time.


The Stuff of Leadership

Photo Credit: heyitsy0u on Flickr

Some may call you: stubborn, driven and myopic.

Perhaps you are actually leading with: bravery, grit, and vision.

Certainly you should reflect occasionally to be sure you are being who you mean to be, but…

One thing’s for sure; when you’re in front, you will be criticized.  You will make mistakes because you were brave enough to try; you will recover from your mistakes because you have grit and you will accomplish your goal, because you have vision.

Neighborhood leaders must be resilient and willing to take the heat.  They say you can recognize the leader by the arrows sticking out of them.  The good news is that the company you will find when you step out of the crowd is extraordinary and there are deep rewards awaiting you.

While Director of the Department of Neighborhoods, Yvonne Sanchez did a wonderful job of acknowledging leaders.  She understood how much personal strength it takes to lead successful efforts.

  • Speechless after a tour of Fremont Peak Park, she asked,
    “May I hug you all?  This is beautiful.”
  • During an evening celebration of leadership, she addressed the sizeable crowd, saying,
    “Tonight you’re in the company of amazing people; you’re all leaders.”

Leadership is powerful stuff.  It’s not easy, but it is required for good community work.  Leadership is best shared rather than reserved for spokespeople.  Everyone needs to keep their eyes on the long range goals and search for the high road at all times.   Then all can bask in the accomplishments.