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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Perspectives (March 2017)

Sara Merz, Director

AHA’s capacity building work (generously funded by John Rex Endowment) focuses on building a stronger and sustainable AHA. We’re working with a couple of consultants – on measuring our outcomes, drafting a new strategic plan and fund development. It’s challenging and time-consuming, and it’s what will ensure AHA’s sustainability and maximize the impact of the AHA collaborative.

And this brings me to our Dig In! keynote last week by Soyini Guyton, who co-founded Frogtown Farm, a five-acre urban farm in St. Paul, MN. I was struck by the process she described, and how it has some key similarities to other “big result” endeavors:

  • thoughtful observation of major community needs (in Frogtown, for green space and tree cover, youth needs and beauty)
  • A few people leading together to drive a really big effort
  • Lots of others being part of the conversation and bringing others in
  • A long planning process, followed by fundraising
  • High community expectation for quick results!
  • Founders often “handed it off” at a certain point, ie, Soyini is now on the board of Frogtown Farms but doesn’t staff it or get into day to day operations.

I am always fascinated to see how things get done. And hearing some of the steps the Frogtown Farm founders took makes me think, of course amazing things happen, step by step.

Thanks to over 300 of you who joined AHA for Dig In. So many of the people in Wake County leading local foods work were speakers at our sessions, and the feedback has been great.

I noted AHA has a staff of two and that it’s extraordinary for one person (my colleague) to plan and execute an event like Dig In. Several people approached me afterward saying “I didn’t know AHA had such a small staff!” That’s a credit to our partners, our board and staff leadership. Here’s to “big results endeavors!”

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