News & Media

Kelly Ryan Blog: Tribune. A Champion of the People.

Mon. Mar 16, 2015

“When neighbors help neighbors, and even when strangers help strangers, both those who help and those who are helped are transformed. When that which was their problem becomes our problem, there is a new connectedness and new forms of community are possible.” – Ambassador James Joseph

Residents involved with the Tribune Building Project have demonstrated a new connectedness by virtue of shifting from a mindset and cultural norm of “they will take care of it” to “I have a desire and responsibility to be involved” to “we have a shared purpose in this place.” They to Meto We. This shift didn’t happen overnight. But Ambassador Joseph is right. When transformation happens and people see each other with new eyes and practice empathy, new forms of community are possible. It is happening in south Wood County right now.

From the beginning, the Tribune was about more than the building.

When Incourage purchased the property it was with the intent that residents would decide its future use. And the Project has continued to build upon more than a decade of our investment in culture change, beginning with re-establishing trust and confidence in a community that was devastated by economic crisis and the resulting change in cultural norms.

Only a year after the Project began, our community’s narrative is beginning to change. I sense it. You can hear it. Residents have found their voice and are energized to connect with others and participate in meaningful ways.

As shared by Daily Tribune Media in a March 9 article written by Melanie Lawder (@mel_lawder): For young adults, Tribune Building means revitalization, residents are looking at our community through a new lens.

“After being part of (a) project like this, I feel like I have some ownership of this community,” shared Jacob Bertagnoli, Lincoln High School social studies teacher.

Katrina Hittner, co-owner of Family Natural Foods, said it was refreshing to see engagement involving residents across generations at the community meetings. “You leave that room feeling invigorated,” she said. “There’s this new energy and it’s really refreshing; everybody is excited about something.”

Today, as we’d hoped less than two years ago, the Tribune IS more than a building. It is a champion of the people. It represents unlimited potential to shape a new narrative. A colleague from a national foundation recently commented on our work with the Tribune as it relates to shaping new economic activity, “Big solutions are found in smaller pieces of work that must be done to foster authentic, sustainable change.”

Take away the building, and I’m certain the movement that has been seeded as a result would not disappear. Because, we’ve all been transformed by the relationships built through this process. And more continue to join us each day.

Is it possible that the Tribune and the transformation it has had for those involved is just the beginning? I believe so. Because I believe, as residents are demonstrating, anything is possible.

Join us.



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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.