News & Media

Kelly Ryan: Better Together

Tue. Dec 5, 2017

In this season of renewal, I’m reflecting on our value of ‘shared stewardship’ and its importance in the midst of change and transition.

Shared stewardship implies we all have a responsibility to take care of each other and this community. Incourage believes our role in shared stewardship requires an approach that seeks balance between change and preservation – with an unwavering commitment to the common good.

With the passing of time, I see our community transitioning and beginning to shape a new identity: an identity that reflects an appreciation of community assets, a sense of possibility and engaged residents, businesses and organizations. An identity that respects the past and looks to the future.

Tribune represents both our past and our future. And, as I’ve said many times, Tribune is about more than the building. The development process itself demonstrates this. Our motivation wasn’t simply to renovate a building or improve downtown. We set out to support new capabilities that enable resident-centered and community driven decision-making; the type of decision-making that is essential to realize shared stewardship, inclusive economic growth and long-term sustainable change.

Recognition of these capabilities in the form of increased civic engagement has been lauded recently by elected officials – including local, state and national – who’ve received residents’ advocacy efforts for Tribune support over the past year, in volumes they’d previously not experienced from our community.

This civic engagement is just one example of how priorities identified by over 4,000 residents in our 2012 Community Survey, particularly ‘openness to new ideas and change,’ are being realized.

Five years later, with the 2017 Community Survey currently underway, we’re witnessing an increased desire to be involved through the number of requests received for ‘community conversations’ – deeper discussions hosted by residents representing many facets of our community. This is another encouraging indicator of positive change and increased engagement. Results will be presented at a community forum on March 13, 2018 at the Performing Arts Center of Wisconsin Rapids.

Stewardship that balances meeting changing needs and preservation has been in Incourage’s DNA since inception.

We adapt when necessary to best address the community’s changing needs – such as seeding new approaches in workforce development strategies, as we have this past decade. Today, those seeds are growing strong and evolving in multiple ways that build capabilities and increase capacity across the community.

Incourage does this work while preserving our core values and beliefs. We believe that all human beings have value and should have equal opportunity; that positive change happens when people are engaged in decisions that affect their lives; and when they feel a sense of ownership and shared responsibility for their community. We believe we are better together.

In looking forward to 2018, I feel we are turning the corner in terms of progress in one of the most important and ‘least measurable’ areas that will define our future success: belief in ourselves and this community.

I hear residents, young and old, asking questions, exploring possibilities and working together in new ways.

I hear an emerging belief that we know this place is worth investing in – so important, as shared stewardship falls flat when you do not value what you’re stewarding.

There is a growing sense of pride in our place. I listen for it, nurture it and hope you will, too. 

It is priceless.


  • Press Contact

    [email protected] | 715.423.3863
  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.