Over the past six weeks we have made a rapid sprint through the four major phases of the life and journey of the Bradley Initiative for Church and Community (BICC).
While I made several general references of how BICC has impacted lives, not many faces were portrayed.
Faces like that of Angie Chastain, an IDA participant who saved for three years, completed the financial literacy classes and received a tuition check of $3,600 equal to her savings. With this Angie is now able to complete her bachelor's degree in early childhood education at UTC.
Others, like Maria Hernandez who was a member of Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders Today four years as she developed her leadership skills and this month had an audience with President Obama after being a finalist for the National Youth of the Year Award.
There is the Starfish family who has discovered the immense value that reading to their child has on brain development. The young man whose father was absent in his life and a BTG mentor came alongside of him to help be that male role model to guide him through the turbulent adolescent years.
Adults like Christine Mayfield who as a teenager was not able to graduate from high school, but in her 60s diligently attended the REACH Adult High School and earned her traditional high school diploma.
Also, there is the immeasurable impact of the rich cultural and educational experience afforded our community through personal interaction with people from around the world, our neighbors, who live and work right here in our community that we may never have known except for the five years of the Festival of Cultures.
BICC would not be BICC without the thousands of people who have provided financial support and valiantly taken the initiative to recognize that we are “together a community.” It is only through our togetherness and the grace of God that our community has become a model, although not perfect, but a model that other communities are taking note of and inquiring how they can achieve the level of unity and quality our community affords.
We now come to the fifth phase — the present and the future intertwined — the unfolding of new opportunities and challenges that lie before our community. Following a year of strategic planning, reviewing our past and projecting our future, BICC remains tenaciously committed to the listening process that engages every level of our community to identify commonly held concerns.
It is in the context of faith and recognizing the value and strength of working together that BICC moves into the next decade with what we call Operation: Spring Forward. With the significant changes in our community in the past couple of years, and the forecast of major change in the future, we believe it is important to get a fresh read on commonly held concerns through hearing again from community.
The newly formed BICC Vision Commission is the vehicle through which this new phase of the listening process will be facilitated. Churches, community organizations, civic groups, businesses and others are not only invited to participate but urged to get involved. Between now and the end of February 2011, BICC is launching an intensive emphasis on conducting thousands of one-to-one listening interviews.
Some people ask, “Why is it necessary to have one-to-one interviews?” Personally engaging individuals through listening conveys a powerful statement. It challenges individuals to reflect on their own values and those of our collective community. For someone to take the time to listen makes the statement that I value what you have to say; I value your perspective and your experience.
Face-to-face listening restores dignity to people whose dignity has been lost. Many times it gives voice to those whose voice has been silenced. Not only do we listen to the prominent and educated but also the marginalized and disadvantaged who are legitimately part of who we are as a community. We cannot effectively move forward without recognizing and engaging every aspect of our community. The BICC listening process does that.
In March 2011, the interviews will be collated and analyzed to determine the greatest concerns within our community. Further research on the local issues will be conducted to examine the depth, breadth and validity of the issue. In April 2011, BICC will host an open forum inviting community dialogue on the specific issue. Following the forum, extensive research will be conducted to examine possible root or systemic causes of the issue and to identify how other communities address similar issues. Finally, in August all the listening and research will be used to determine the next BICC project.
As described above, the next BICC project will be determined by the voice of the community, given life through the listening process. You are invited to participate! If your church, community group or business in not involved, please call the BICC office for more information.
Thank you for joining me over the past few weeks!
It has been my delight to share the journey of BICC. Almost without exception, when I present the story of BICC there is one specific question asked. Where did the idea of BICC come from? Next week, I will share the answer to this question in the final column in this series.