News & Media

Kelly Ryan Blog: A Movement Underway

Wed. Nov 26, 2014

A core element of Incourage’s strategy to engage residents is the gathering and sharing of reliable information through easily accessible means.

On November 20, during an interactive community event, we debuted our fourth issue of Vital Signs. Developed in partnership with Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Vital Signs includes rich data and comparative examples to support informed discussions. This is our most robust issue yet.

As expressed during the Vital Signs event, I believe we have a shared destiny. We are connected, by virtue of sharing the same place. And, we need to intentionally think about each person who lives here, because every single person matters.

As a community, we have a moral imperative to help each person realize their full potential. Some of the information presented in this issue ofVital Signs bears out that fact.

During this event it became clear. Residents’ desire to engage more deeply is growing. No longer is there a question of receptiveness. Instead, among many, it has become a matter of ‘what more can I learn?’. Residents are leaning forward, offering new ideas and making commitments to continue connecting beyond the event.

Experiencing this shift was a validation of our work – a 14-year journey to foster a participatory culture where residents are central to the decision-making process.

A movement is underway in south Wood County. But we know this is a long-term journey and are deeply grateful to those engaged residents, businesses and organizations that made the Vital Signs event the success that it was.

I know our founder, visionary philanthropist Virginia Brazeau, would be very proud of the work being accomplished in our community, today. As would Ruth & Hartley Barker and Gilbert & Jaylee Mead who advanced Virginia’s vision, by also investing in Incourage’s operations. Especially in this season of thanks, I’m grateful to these individuals for their many gifts, including their demonstration of courage.

I’d like to also thank our neighbors and again, those who attended theVital Signs event. Our permanent commitment is to you, this place, and our shared future. Thank you, for walking alongside us in the journey to realize a community that works well for all people.


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  • 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.