Leadership Eatonville Program Begins

Leadership EatonvilleThe Healthy Eatonville Team and the Polis Institute are proud to announce the launch of the first class of “Leadership Eatonville.”  This twelve-month program will equip community leaders to deploy successful community initiatives in Eatonville.  The Leadership Eatonville program is funded through a grant awarded to the Polis Institute by the Winter Park Health Foundation.

The Healthy Eatonville Team, created through Healthy Central Florida to work in collaboration with the Town of Eatonville, is striving to make policy changes on the local level to make the healthy choice the easy choice for community residents. During 2015, the team embraced the opportunity to further its’ goal of including the principles of healthy community design into the Town’s Master Plan and Comprehensive planning documents by developing a capacity building program for the Town’s Community Redevelopment Agency. This would ensure Eatonville maintained its walkable and bikeable nature while bringing in development that could bring economic prosperity to the town.

The Polis Institute, a private not-for-profit organization dedicated to designing solutions to social problems, has conducted research, provided training/coaching, and fostered community engagement in 50 neighborhoods. The initiatives stemming from Polis Institute efforts have led to reductions in crime, decreases in vacant housing, decreases in families in poverty, and increases in employment. In the process, the Polis Institute has added expertise in Human Centered Design (to design community initiatives) and Collective Impact (to align initiatives to broader community plans and partnerships) to its repertoire.

According to Phil Hissom, Polis Institute Executive Director, he often gets asked, “Does community transformation happen from the top down or the bottom up?” His response is, “It might be surprising to hear that the answer is yes. It takes both, plus a concerted effort from the middle.”

Over a 12-month period, the Polis Institute will implement three phases of Leadership Eatonville to prepare approximately 100 residents to lead their community in efforts to become a more vibrant and healthy place. While there are very specific skill sets and modalities taught in the program, the thread that ties all of the pieces together is the emphasis on healthy relationships. Woven throughout the content are exercises that will increase emotional intelligence and cultural competence so  participants grow in their capacity to listen and learn from others. This is how conflicts are resolved, bridges are built, and community initiatives become successful.