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Posts from the ‘Your Leadership’ Category

30
Sep

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.

29
Sep

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.

28
Sep

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.

16
Sep

Vision and Scope

Starting Your Project

The first challenge is to scope your project and gather support.
What do want to do?

Describe your vision

What do you hope to accomplish? Talk first with those who can understand your vision. Build it up and flesh it out as much as possible, before you worry about obstacles. Use a white board or pad of paper. Write down as many ideas as possible and review them periodically. Photographing your notes is a slick way to remember brainstorming sessions. Digital cameras make this an instant way to record minutes and distribute them by email.

Visualizing
Modeling of any sort can help you visualize. Make sketches or 3D models, play in the sandbox, take photographs and write stories. Do anything to build images that will lead you to your dream. Use these images to get others on board. Use the images to raise funds.

Do you need a life-size model? You can use rope or contractor’s ribbon to mark out a space in a park or on a parking lot, then walk around getting the full size perspective that you need.

Check out our Projects Photo Gallery for more inspiration.

Define Your Scope

How big is your project and what do you need to accomplish it?

Do you need money? We can getting you started on finding Funding.

Do you need contacts?

Do you need neighborhood support, Community Council support, City Parks support, Departments of Transportation Support, county support, state support? Do you need land? Do you need architects, engineers, cooks, writers or artists?

Do you need an artist, materials, contractors, dirt or plants?

Networking is a great way to find the things you need.  We can get you started with  our collection of links to all kinds of resources as well as making strategic introductions.

Do you need support?

Does anyone but you care about your dream? Probably the most important support is the moral support of those who will cheer you on and help you. Build those relationships. By creating a dream, you are giving others something to get excited about. You’ll be surprised how much they’ll appreciate that and how important that will be to you.

Others – even good friends – may not think your idea is so good. Don’t be discouraged. No matter how good your idea is there will be detractors, for many strange and human reasons. Persevere!

If you’re going to lead a project that will last for more than a year, we’d recommend you study leadership. It’s probably not what you think it is. See our Inspiration page and look at our leadership links.

 

Gather Your Team

 

Whatever you need, begin networking for it. Ask others who have been successful at what you want to do. Most people will be thrilled to pass on their knowledge. That’s why we created Urban Sparks; it’s a thrill to help you create something good.

15
Sep

What Support Looks Like

Does anyone but you care about your dream? Probably the most important support is the moral support of those who will cheer you on and help you. Build those relationships. By creating a dream, you are giving others something to get excited about. You’ll be surprised how much they’ll appreciate that and how important that will be to you.

Others – even good friends – may not think your idea is not so good. Don’t be discouraged. No matter how good your idea is there will be detractors, for many strange and human reasons. Persevere!

If you’re going to lead a project that will last for more than a year, we’d recommend that you study leadership. It’s probably not what you think it is. Also try diving in to our Leadership Profiles to get inspired.

14
Sep

Getting Started with Contacts

Suzie, Donald, and JackDo you need contacts? Do you need neighborhood support, Community Council support, City Parks support, Departments of Transportation Support, county support, state support? Do you need land? Do you need architects, engineers, cooks, writers or artists? Whatever you need, begin networking for it. Ask others who have been successful at what you want to do. Most people will be thrilled to pass on their knowledge. That’s why we created Urban Sparks; it’s a thrill to help you create something good.

Do you need an artist, materials, contractors, dirt or plants? Networking is a great way to find the things you need. Here is a start – our collection of links to all kinds of resources. Resources and Links

13
Sep

Getting Started with Funding

Funding needs can be very small to very big.

For very small projects, the simplest approach might be to reach into your own pockets or those of a few friends.  The time it takes to raise money elsewhere is significant.  Pay attention to your time to help assess whether  various fundraising activities are worth the trouble.

When more cash is needed, consider using a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor like us to receive tax-deductible donations and foundation grants to fund your project.  This method is particularly useful when you have donors identified but your organization is not a 501(c)(3).

Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods Neighborhood Matching Fund is the gateway to City-of-Seattle-funded volunteer projects, offering several levels of funding for community projects. Many Seattle neighborhood projects start their funding here.  This matching fund, with its matching and reporting requirements, is respected around the world for the way it engages community and leads to finished projects. It is also respected by other funding agencies, so it is a good place to start when you are trying to put together an array of funding sources.

There are many sources of money

Individuals, businesses, foundations, labor unions, churches, guilds, government budgets, all can provide funding. It all depends on what you are trying to do. Look at our list of useful links and resources, call us, get funding lists from other projects and come back here to see what we’ve added.

Don’t over look pro bono or in-kind donations!

This is work that someone or some business is willing to do for free or goods that someone is willing to donate. A printer might print your poster for free; a local contractor may donate some backhoe time; a nursery may donate plants. Think about who might like to support a project like yours and ask. Fundraising seminars always make one thing clear: All those who give, were asked.

Get in touch and we’ll discuss your project.

12
Sep

Links & Resources

Links and Resources

Here are links to local organizations that can help you with your project…

City of Seattle

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Neighborhood Organizations

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Kids Organizations

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Seattle Schools, Public

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Seattle Schools, Private

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Foundations

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Bicycling

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Skateboarding

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Flora, Fauna, and Environmental

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Land Conservation

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Miscellaneous

11
Sep

Marking Milestones

Bradner ConcertGroundbreakings, Dedications, and Other Excuses for a Party

Projects for the common good come with a lot of rewards.  The recognition that YOU made a positive change in your neighborhood feels great.  We know that there are moments during the community project process that are a bit more….challenging.  Exhausting, even.  That’s why we encourage all our project leaders to take time to celebrate.  Celebrate beginnings, middles, and ends with groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings, dedications, and any other ceremony that will be meaningful for you and your neighbors.

You envisioned a better world and worked to make it reality.  Let’s toast to that!

10
Sep

Leadership Profiles

Whatever your skills or passion, it feels good to give to your community.  Our profiles of volunteers show how others have contributed to or led community projects.

Susan CaseyDavid BergerJen Smith

8
Sep

Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith“I think that everyone is moving so fast and that our cities are growing. Often times you are living so close to your neighbors and it is nice to have a green space to appreciate quiet, to meet your neighbors, for kids to play or to view a beautiful sunset. I think that preserving green space in any city is important. In Minnesota where I am from, we have more space and so here I feel dedicated to keeping some of the city green. If we can preserve land, it would benefit Seattle a lot.”

Read more »

7
Sep

Jennifer Wengeler

“I want to contribute in some way. It is like me to want to do something with a lot of freedom about when I do it. I don’t have to schedule it with other people; I can do it if and when I want to and I like that what I’m doing is outdoors. I think every action makes a difference. Every ounce of peace in someone’s heart contributes to world peace.”

Read more »

6
Sep

Susan Casey

Susan Casey“Barbara Donette says that in community gardens we grow food and we grow community. You can connect with people over gardening in a way that you can’t otherwise. I know the people down at the garden more than I do the neighbors in my apartment building. It means that we connect over a larger geographic area, we are growing things concurrently and connecting on a basic level. We all need the garden to connect with community and to grow healthy, local, fresh food.”

Read more »

5
Sep

Judith and Peter Elkins

“Both our families and friends have set great examples for us in the area of community participation, stewardship, and accountability resulting in solid roots to evolve from.”

Read more »

4
Sep

David Berger

David Berger“I am inspired by a moral aesthetic toward improving things in the world and my family has a tradition to do volunteer work. My grandmother was always a big volunteer in her community. She always said, Service is the price you pay for the air you breathe.

Read more »

3
Sep

Karen Moe

I like being an active member of my community, instead of just passively enjoying it. And volunteering is a great way to meet my neighbors. It tickles my sense of fun and creativity to be able to create interesting spaces with things for people to look at and interact with – doing something as easy as planting a few colorful flowers by a public staircase brings so much enjoyment to others and contributes to the character of my community.”

Read more »

2
Sep

Jack Tomkinson

“Generosity seems to be a basic human trait, one that holds the world together generation after generation, despite all of the awful things in the news. I’m grateful for, and I admire the people who try to make our world a place to enjoy and to be proud of. So when I volunteer I feel I am honoring the goodness in people.”

Read more »