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  • Great Lakes Urban

Harvesting Hope in West of Washington

What was known a few decades ago as the rural part of town is now filled with shops, businesses, and housing developments.

The West of Washington neighborhood is located in South Holland and, thanks to support from the City of Holland, is one of the newer neighborhood in town with a connector program. Jonna, the Organizer, spends time with neighbors each week to identify gifts and common interests.

Among all the places in West of Washington, a condominium complex with mostly retired adults has best planted the seeds for neighboring. Over the past two years, the neighbors have gathered together to get to know one another and find ways to build or maintain the infrastructure that drives social connection. Neighbors advocate together for shared common space and benches along a path where many residents walk their dogs. With determination and gumption, this group, led by Robin Klay, continues to explore opportunities to band together and make their community a great place to live.

With support from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, Jonna Johnson, organizer with Great Lakes Urban, has been able to expand on these early successes. Jonna has developed and implemented a new workshop for neighbors across the West of Washington community. In a six-week series Jonna engaged residents in learning about the impact of being engaged in one’s neighborhood and building gift-based relationships. The participants learned together once a week and then put these ideas into practice where they lived in between the sessions.

As Makya, one of the participants, said, “Attending the Connector class has been extremely beneficial for me so far. Not only am I learning key techniques in bringing my community together, it also aides in learning the skills necessary for accurately recognizing the different qualities and assets in other individuals. I’d recommend this class to anybody wanting to improve themselves and their community!"

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