Podcast: Elizabeth Lynn on ValpoNEXT’s Start

Elizabeth Lynn

ValpoNEXT Coordinator Kathy Sipple speaks with Elizabeth Lynn, Founding Director at the Center for Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University and outgoing Director at VU’s Institute for Leadership and Service.

Lynn and Sipple discuss the initial issues that formed the foundation of the ValpoNEXT planning process. After hiring an outside organization and organizing a variety of methods to hear public opinions, the developed and in-depth set of recommendations for the city. This plan is to carry Valparaiso through the next several decades and help it become the most engaged city of its size. The nonprofit group ValpoNEXT was formed to connect and guide volunteers in the community to focus strengths towards these common goals. The necessity of the community board meetings is emphasized, as well as the need for volunteers (as well as details to get involved).

Elizabeth Lynn Background

Dr. Lynn teaches in the field of philanthropic leadership and service, conducts research on the role of the humanities in American civic life, served on the Valparaiso Board of Zoning Appeals, the governing board of Indiana Humanities, and the advisory board for the Lake Family Institute on Faith and Giving at Indiana University.

She holds a PhD in Religion and Literature from the University of Chicago and is the Co-editor with Adam Davis of The Civically Engaged Reader. Most recently she authored An Ongoing Experiment: State Councils, the Humanities, and the American Public (Kettering Foundation, 2013).

Transcript Notes

  • Elizabeth Lynn was the co-chair when ValpoNEXT was being planned. She is also the founding director at Valparaiso University’s Center for Civic Reflection, as well as the director at the Institute for Leadership and Service.
  • There is a decline in civic engagement in the United States as a whole, but members of the Valparaiso community were still healthily engaged.
  • The community hired an organization called Planning NEXT to craft a broad vision for Valparaiso’s future.
    • Organized summits, small group focus sessions, and other meetings to get advice and recommendations for Valparaiso citizens.
  • This created the nonprofit ValpoNEXT to form community boards in order to connect interested individuals within the city.
  • Recommendations in the plan focus on being a welcoming community, celebrating diversity, and encouraging interactions between people of widely different backgrounds within Valparaiso.
  • All Together Valpo (ATV) was a task force formed by the mayor based on ValpoNEXT’s vision plan. It was made up of three subcommittees working on different issues related to diversity and inclusion.
    • Hiring a more diverse workforce within the city (schools, public works, administration, etc.), affordable housing, how to become more welcoming and inclusive in general.
    • Welcoming Valpo committee was together till 2015 and put forward a report of recommendations that helped lead to Maggie Clifton’s hiring as the Director of Community Engagement.
  • Community board meetings allow citizens to meet one another, learn what community boards have been working on, and engaging new people in the overall process of ValpoNEXT.
  • ValpoNEXT helps connect people in and catalyze the civic energy that exists in Valpo.

The relationships built when people connect at community board meetings will run for a long, long time. This plan is a long-term community vision.

ValpoNEXT could use note takers, documenters, and more! Contact at info@valponext.org.dream.website

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