Capacity Building and Leadership in Yuma, Colorado
Vicki Luther and Cornelia Butler Flora
June 15, 1992
The parking lot at the community center is full. Inside, 122 residents of the town and countryside are seated at tables filling the auditorium. A community meeting is in progress. The meeting has been planned and promoted by community members and is convened and directed entirely by local residents. Staff from the Heartland Center for Leadership Development met with the organizers earlier to devise an action plan for promotions and the agenda for tonight. No outsiders are present for the meeting.
The crowd in the auditorium is quite diverse: men and women, all ages, newcomers and long-time residents, Anglo and Hispanic. The auditorium is filled with noise, laughing and joking, as well as earnest dialogue. At each table, a group is engaged in energetic discussion. One fills a sheet of newsprint. At several tables, the recorders are high school students.
Each small group is busy describing what they see as the desired future of the community--not what is possible or probable, but the future that is preferred. Their next step will be to consider what actions will be necessary to make that preferred future a reality By the end of the evening, 67 individuals will have signed up for five action task forces with projects ranging from recycling to in-town school busing.
Yuma, Colorado didn't begin efforts at community capacity building in the 1990s. Certainly, many outreach programs had an impact on the town before a group of 12 citizens were engaged in a year-long training program in 1992/93 sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred, Inc. The group, led by a Pioneer sales representative, applied for the program and described their town as progressive,