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Insights & ideas to Ignite your coalition

Winter 2012

Welcome to the first Coalitions Works blog! We’ve just updated our site to share new ideas, insights and tools with you. We hope these innovations expand how you think about and work with your coalitions and partnerships. We’ll publish this blog on a regular basis as new insights and ideas come our way.


From your Coalition Works Team

Reflections on Winter Volume 1/Issue 1/2012

For some of us, winter is a time of hibernation. We survived the busy holidays, the end of the year budget crises and coalition reports. And just like the black bears in Sheandoah National Park in Virginia, we are ready to eat comfort foods, chill out and settle in for a long winter’s nap.

But for the coalition “movers and shakers” out there, the new year is a time for new beginnings. A time to be optimistic and visualize the months ahead as being full of unlimited potential and promise. For community partnerships, it’s a great time to …

  • reflect on past accomplishments & create/tweak your annual action plan
  • hold a retreat to clarify members’ roles & responsibilities
  • conduct a leadership training to hone their facilitation skills
  • meet with community stakeholders to explore issues of mutual concern
  • recruit new and diverse organizations to spark creativity in your work groups

Sometimes, we just have to be a little kinder to ourselves and develop a realistic perspective about what can be accomplished over time. This message has been brought home to me recently as my husband and I have begun to rebuild an old chestnut log cabin in the mountains (near the bears)! Just like coalitions, such an endeavor requires a lot of good old fashioned work.



First, the land was cleared and prepared. Trees, vines, rocks and other obstacles must be removed to make way for the cabin.

This is not unlike how you prepare your community and coalition for the work ahead, develop a vision about what can be done together, and remove any obstacles that may interfere with your work (selfish motives, resistance to change, negative thinking).

Then, we drew up plans and gathered the equipment and building materials (logs, wood, machinery, person power) that would be needed.

In much the same way, you assess/reassess your community and gather the resources (funds, leaders, members, staff, in-kind contributions of time and talent) needed to build or adapt your coalition for the work ahead and  develop a vision about what can be accomplished together when path of resistance is cleared.

  Next, we poured the footings, installed the foundation beams, and carefully stacked log on log to ensure that they were square.

Similarly, you build just enough coalition infrastructure (Steering Committee, Work Groups, bylaws, guiding principles, and processes for communicating, making decisions, and implementing your strategies. If you are veteran coaliiton, it might be time to evaluate whether your structure adequately supports the work of your coalition.


Now, it was time for the roof – a job that required teamwork and skilled carpemtry if the cabin was to be snug and dry!

Your coalition, too, should be a place that is safe and secure – a place where organizations are welcomed, accepted and free to openly explore new possibilities.



We knew that it would take skilled workers to get our cabin built, so we “recruited” them and then let them put their skills to work. Although my grand-daughter and I have started to “move in”, our project has only just begun.[/column]


For you, too, the building or rebuilding of your coalition over these winter months has just begun. Many tasks (like recruiting skilled volunteers) remain in order to get your “house” functioning efficiently. Join me next time to see how the cabin in progressing and what has to be done to get it (and your coalition) ready for Spring!

Stay warm,


P.S. For more information on coalition building, check out the Coalition Start-Up Tools under Tools & Resources on this website!