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Have You Changed the Community Yet?

by Barrio Alegria Co.

Feb 08, 2019
Barrio Alegria

This question comes up when we talk about our successes in the work that we do. Measuring change is a difficult task, and although art can lend a hand, we feel that there are some things we can measure using traditional methods: One of the things Barrio set out to change early on was a lack of community leaders. In 2018 Barrio set out to look for those people who did not identify as leaders, but were holding leadership roles in their micro communities. We engaged them, and asked them to become involved in art projects. But we knew we needed to do more.

We spent a good portion of 2018 dreaming and researching how our leadership model could be structured into its own curriculum. In the end, we agreed that our model would include skill building and networking opportunities, but it would also be intentional about creating change in internal narratives that we call “self limiting beliefs”.

This model’s structure was formalized with 8 community members who have agreed to be part of Barrio’s first Leadership Cohort.

Constructing Leadership

For many years, Barrio’s Leadership model has consisted of embedding leadership skill building opportunities in our programs, and has created opportunities for people who don’t naturally select as leaders.
In 2018, we piloted a Leadership Cohort that included retreats to Philadelphia and workshops for artists. At the end of the year, and after listening to the participants, we decided to build a more structured syllabus.

Read more about the cohort.

We asked Leadership Cohort member Idalmi Rivera to answer some questions about her experience so far with the cohort.

Idalmi is a published illustrator, member of the Leadership Cohort, and a student at Kutztown University.

1. Do you consider yourself a leader?
I consider myself a rising leader. As in I’m in the process of becoming and learning to be a leader but not naturally one.

2. What does being a leader mean?
I believe that being a leader means to inspire and motivate others with the same mission.

3. Knowing that this is a year long commitment, what was the decisive factor that made you sign up to this Leadership Cohort?
I decided to sign up because I see this as a chance to get involved in my community. I also see it as an opportunity to make a difference, even if its minuscule. To me, this cohort is a step in that direction.

5. What project are you working on in the Leadership Cohort?
I’m working on making an effort to raise the number of children reading in Spanish in our city. We’re hoping to do this by coming up with words for each letter in the alphabet that motivates reading in Spanish. Also, by involving children in the illustration process for each word.

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