July 5, 2012
Heart and Soul Project seeks representatives to help make Polson a lasting place
By Lailani Upham
Rocky Point Road neighborhood resident Christine Pitts replies, “Lake” to the question, “In a word, what does Polson mean to you?” during a recent Polson Heart and Soul activity at the Masumola Club. The Heart & Soul project will include many neighborhood gatherings and activities throughout the greater Polson area to include as many voices as possible. (Courtesy photo)
POLSON — The Heart and Soul project of the Greater Polson Community Foundation is looking for representatives from the Polson city limits to volunteer insight and input into Polson’s future.
The Heart and Soul project is a two-year grant program to reach out to members of the Polson community to engage in conversations to ensure Polson is economically vibrant in years to come and a great place to live.
The $100,000 award from the Orton Family Foundation to the Greater Polson Community Foundation is one of five communities to receive in the United States, says Fran Stoddard, Orton Family Foundation Communications Director.
Heart and Soul project coordinators Daniel and Darlis Smith are recruiting volunteers to serve on the project’s Community Advisory Team (CAT) to help coordinate events, communications, logistics and more. The Smiths say it is vital for people of every area and expertise to serve on the committee.
The Heart and Soul representatives say they encourage tribal community members to join in for tribal areas to be heard to help guide the Polson community future.
“The Polson Heart and Soul project will employ a variety of tools to talk with the people who live here to discover what we value as individuals and collectively. Through the input of our neighbors, we hope to find ways to ensure the things that are most important to us are incorporated into future planning decisions in the Polson area, and into our public decision making process. It will be up to our community to determine how to use the information we discover,” stated Daniel Smith.
Many upcoming events are being planned throughout the year for community members to attend and share ideas.
During the events the Heart and Soul reps will be asking the community-at-large, “What do you love about Polson?” “What are your concerns?” And, “What are your aspirations for our community?”
According to Orton Family Foundation founder, Lyman Orton and Noel Fitzinger, both residents of a small population town of 630 in Vermont, began their vision in 1995.
Orton was serving on his planning commission in the 80s during a growth spurt. He was frustrated to find out the Commission could not do a thing to prevent growth initiatives due to zoning bylaws. He said, it left them feeling powerless and that the “heart and soul” of the town was being taken because of the unwanted change.
The Orton Foundation feels that small towns are special places that should never find themselves unprepared or lacking information and tools to protect their character while continuing to change and grow.
Through this project the hope is to have a more unified community; growth in the ability to work together; have meaningful relationships and improved mutual understanding; a vision for future community values; programs for growing leadership skills in the youth; cooperation and support of community organizations and groups; and a clear vision to move forward in grounded community values.
The Heart and Soul Project office is located in the northeast corner of the North Lake County Public Library. Everyone is encouraged to stop by and share ideas or a story. Hours are Tuesday – Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm., Fridays from 8 am – noon; and closed on Mondays.
For information on events and getting involved call Darlis or Daniel Smith at (406) 250-3498.
Heart and Soul can now be found on Facebook.