2019 Robert Lee Sutherland Seminar | Working Together for Rural Well-Being

With a theme born out of the foundation’s new mission to transform how communities promote mental health in everyday life, this seminar was open to individuals from all walks of life who are interested in community-based approaches to addressing resilience, mental health and well-being in rural communities. Topics included community collaboration, change, engaging historically excluded groups, social determinants of mental health, and methods for inclusive dialogue.

Learning Materials

See below for resources from the seminar, including speaker biographies and blog posts, session descriptions, videos and slides. 

At right: Watch a brief recap video for inspiring event highlights!

Additionally, you can hear reflections from attendees on this episode of our Into the Fold podcast.

Key Takeaways and Resources Guide 

This learning guide is intended for people working with a community-based approach to strengthening resilience, well-being and mental health. Readers will find an overview of the seminar sessions and themes discussed, including the frameworks, strategies and tools presented. Although the seminar focused on collaboration in rural communities, the exercises shared can be applied to collaborative work in a variety of settings. 

Opening Plenary: Ignite! Getting Your Community Collaborative Fired Up for Change
Frances Dunn Butterfoss, PhD, MSEd | President, Coalitions Work
Councilman Robert Shankle | President, Impact Lufkin

How can we create community-led solutions? In her practical book, Ignite! Getting Your Community Coalitions Fired Up for Change (included in event bags), Butterfoss compares the process of collaboration to planning, building, fueling and sustaining a campfire. Hear from the author about how to create innovative rural collaboratives that can change policies, systems and environments. Also hear on-the-ground experiences from City Councilman Shankle, a longtime resident of Lufkin, Texas who helped build a collaborative that is catalyzing sustainable community empowerment, revitalization and enrichment.

Deeper Dive Session: Building Community Resilience: Healing Trauma, Fostering Equity through Cross-Sector Collaboration
Wendy Ellis, MPH, DrPH | Milken Scholar Health Policy, Milken Institute School of Public Health Co-Principal Investigator & Project Director for Building Community Resilience Collaborative and Networks, Sumner Redstone Global Center for Prevention & Wellness at George Washington University

What gets in the way of our ability to thrive? Nearly 50 percent of Americans have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), with individuals of color at highest risk. Unemployment, housing instability and food insecurity combine to create an environment in which a child’s home, school and community are sources of stress. In this session, explore the role that systems play in contributing to adverse childhood experiences and adverse community environments—the “Pair of ACEs”— in communities.

Deeper Dive Session: Simple, Powerful Methods to Include Everyone in the Conversation
Anna Jackson, MSSW | Founder, Alpinista Consulting 
Nakia Winfield, LMSW | Equity Consultant, Independent

What are the best methods for productive dialogue? Learn how to disrupt conventional patterns in how we work together through techniques that address some of the most challenging aspects of collaborating with groups and organizations. In this participatory session, explore how to have productive conversations with people who hold a wide range of perspectives and priorities. Together, we will consider how to invite participation to create dynamic solutions owned by organizations and community members alike.

Deeper Dive Session: Circles of Inclusion: Engaging Historically Excluded Groups
Sheila Savannah | Managing Director, Prevention Institute

How can we approach collaboration with cultural humility, courage and trust? Collaborative work often happens around tables limited to people who we have partnered with before—those who are like us and with whom we have familiarity and trust. In this session, learn how widening our circles of inclusion to engage historically excluded groups allows us to better address community needs, garner all available assets, and improve well-being at the individual, community and systems levels.

Deeper Dive Session: Individuals and Organizations as Changemakers
Oscar Benavides | Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, FiveTwo Network

What does it take to make real change in rural communities? In this session, explore how change at the individual and family level can transform the systems that impact community well-being. Learn how to inspire action where barriers seem insurmountable, and reflect on what you are thinking, doing or saying that invites others to join or resist the change you seek.

Rural Table Tours

Attendees of the seminar had an opportunity to visit with grantees of the Hogg Foundation’s Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities Initiative. Entities in Bastrop, Brooks, Morris, Nacogdoches and Victoria counties were awarded $410,000 each over three years to create or build upon an existing community collaborative aimed at strengthening resilience, mental health and well-being. Inclusion of historically excluded groups is a priority so that all community voices are part of the process. The initiative is coordinated by Alliance for Greater Works, a grantee of the foundation. Check out these brief spotlights to learn more about the collaboratives and the coordinator:

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