What's Next? workshop advances community-building ideas

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What happened at the What's Next workshop?

The Catlin Gabel community—students, teachers, staffers, parents, alumni, trustees, and friends—began working together to figure out “What’s Next?” at a meeting on January 23. (Join the conversation on our website forum.)

The group of more than 100 met in the Barn for most of the day to figure out what was important to them and to the school and wider communities through self-reflection and a series of various group discussions led by past trustee and parent Mindy Clark. In addition, the event was streamed live on the website, and those off campus were able to participate online. Every idea and contribution was given respectful consideration at all times as the group worked towards final consensus at the end of the meeting. From smaller to larger groups, and then to the group as a whole, participants brainstormed ideas for what’s next, given a set of basic parameters. The final products were a list of events or activities that all agreed on, a list of what was agreed to be common ground, and a list of ideas that not every one agreed to, but that were important to some. No idea was thrown away, however—all ideas were captured and will be kept for future consideration.

Common ground—values that all thought should undergird what’s next—included attributes of multiple generations, physical activity, a learning component, a local connection to the community, a service component, financial sustainability, ability of students to run or organize the activity, and a way for the school community to bond or connect.

Projects, activities, or events that drew consensus were something to do with gardens, farms, or growing food (what one called a “Honey Hollow Farm resurrection”); a “Barn Raising” as a metaphor for building and working together on a specific project on or off campus; one specific event; a Catlin Gabel service corps; and an annual Campus Day connected to a worldwide day of service so that those who don’t live nearby can take part.

Members of the What’s Next steering committee will consider all the input and come back to the entire Catlin Gabel community with proposals for consideration. Whether it be one event, or many, or what shape it will take, remains to be seen. But what’s definite is that the community will decide, and try it out, and see what works. A new tradition may be born, or it may take time, but we will do it together.

Steering Committee

Susan Koe, co-chair, parent
Don Vollum '84, co-chair, parent, trustee, alumnus

Stephanie Broad, parent
Li-Ling Cheng, faculty MS, parent
Roberta Cohen, former faculty-staff, parent of alumni
Annette Cragg, parent
Spencer Ehrman '68, alumnus
Qiddist Hammerly, student
Herb Jahncke, faculty LS, parent
Karen “Kitty” Katz '74, staff, alumna, parent
Debbie Ehrman Kaye '73, alumna, parent of alumni
Ted Kaye '73, alumnus, parent of alumni
Art Leo, faculty US, parent
John Mayer, faculty LS
Heather Renjen, parent
Robin Schauffler '68, alumna, former faculty member
Colleen Shoemaker, parent
Tom Tucker '66, faculty MS & US, alumnus, parent
Peg Watson, former faculty, parent of alumni
Patrick Wheary, parent of alumna, current grandparent