Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Connecting Capitals – Incourage is ready for the next century

This week, as I join my peers from across the world at the Council on Foundations (COF) annual conference, we celebrate an industry milestone. In 1914, the first community foundation was established in Cleveland, Ohio. Now, a century later it is clear that the community foundation field is changing as much as the people we serve and the places in which we operate. Yet, how many community foundations, committed to change as they may be, are truly ready for the next century?

Incourage, with more than a decade invested in shaping a new economy, is on the path forward in a very bold way. Today, we’ve become more than a community foundation. Engaging residents in a participatory culture, while leveraging financial and intellectual resources from beyond our place, we’ve become a community development organization as well. And as we hold our neighbors in trust, they too trust that all we do is in furtherance of a community that works well for all people. Guided by our values of equity, inclusion and opportunity we are moving vision to action, starting from within.
Earlier this year, Incourage began taking critical but uncharted steps to connecting each of our capitals – financial, human, intellectual and reputational – in furtherance of a new economy and a community that works well for all. Yesterday, our intentional and forward-facing decision to connect capitals was validated during Ambassador James Joseph’s comments in the COF’s opening plenary.
“The foundation with the most impact in the second century may well be those that integrate into their operating plans, into their goals and into their strategies, the use of at least five forms of capital at their disposal,” shared Mr. Joseph. He further expressed a need for, “an integrated use of social, moral, intellectual, reputational and of course financial capital.”
By no means has Incourage fully realized a connected capitals model. But we are well on our way to becoming one in 2015. As we continue this bold but necessary evolution, we invite our peers in the community foundation field to learn from us. Learn from our successes as well as our possible failures. For it is in taking risks like this one, that failure sometimes occurs. But, as F.B. Heron Foundation President Clara Miller has so eloquently stated before, “The world has changed and so must we.”
Incourage is ready for the next century. Are you?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Look What We Found…Opportunities to Own Our Future

This Tuesday marked the 10th and final meeting of the facilitated, resident-led process for the Tribune Building Project ( and I couldn't have been more impressed with the open dialogue, contributions and resolve displayed by our neighbors in attendance. These behaviors, learned and modeled over the course of the project, were especially critical this evening with the many shared developments. Some of the evening’s news was extremely positive, others more challenging, but I believe that each development discussed presents an opportunity for our community.

Here are a few highlights:

  • On September 26, the Incourage Board of Directors resolved to own the Tribune Building permanently as an affiliated entity. The Board believes strongly in the good work that has been accomplished by the residents to shape a new economy and own their future. They also recognize that the stated operation and vision of the Tribune Building furthers Incourage’s vision of a community that works well for all people.
  • Earlier this summer, we announced our receipt of a $400,000 Creative Placemaking grant from ArtPlace America ( During a special presentation by Lyz Crane, Deputy Director of ArtPlace America, attendees of the Tribune Building meeting learned that only 4% of applicants receive funding from ArtPlace. Lyz shared that the odds of getting into Harvard are better than to receive the prestigious funding that we did. This is a testament to our neighbors and their contributions to the process.
  • The parking lot adjacent to the Tribune Building that Incourage had offered to purchase has been sold. On May 16 we made our offer for $65,000, which represents nearly $3,000 more than the estimated fair market value. Muppet Properties LLC purchased the parcel from NewPage Corporation for $100,000, or $37,900 more than the estimated fair market value. According to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Muppet’s registered agent is Susan Feith. This sale – to a buyer other than the Tribune Building Project – presents limitations to the plans determined by residents. Incourage has reached out to Ms. Feith, expressing our surprise, and has requested a meeting to discuss opportunities for us to work together in the best interest of our community. 
  • A special public meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Centralia Center for residents to come learn more about the parking lot sale as well as tools and ways they can further engage to ensure future opportunities to own our future are not missed. Please RSVP at

As I’ve said before, people are what make a place. This could not have been more clearly demonstrated than it was Tuesday night. At the close of our final planning meeting, I want to take this time to acknowledge the collective work of over 700 residents and their investment of more than 4,400 hours over ten meetings.

Together, we’ve established the Tribune Building as a Community Incubator that helps shape a new economy and community that works well for all people. This space advances:

  • The value and importance of relationships and human potential;
  • An environment that fosters risk and accepts failure;
  • Creativity and innovation. 

The news of the parking lot sale was surprising and disappointing. Yet, again, I go back to the word opportunity and say this is an opportunity to build community and shape a new future, one where the voices of many, rather than single interest or money, lead.

This is an opportunity to have an authentic dialogue and share input on future development. Incourage is not interested in accumulating multiple parcels of land or power, but we’re also not afraid to act INCOURAGE to ensure that a community benefit lens is applied to development choices that impact not only current but also future generations in this community.

Thank you to all our special guests and colleagues, and again, to our neighbors, who were in attendance Tuesday evening. It is with a burning patience that I urge all residents to stay connected and engaged. Together, we’re walking this path for our future and that of future generations. I hope to see you on October 14th.