Meet a Connector: Stephen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Growing up in the small town of Brusly, Louisiana, just outside Baton Rouge, Stephen Hebert felt like an oddball. The environmental issues that mattered to him didn’t seem to matter to others. So he left eight years ago and was surprised to discover like-minded tribes in other states.

“I spent a lot of my life thinking that no one else thought like I did. So once I started to discover similar people, I became kind of greedy,” he says.

Stephen is now back in Brusly and is all about reconnecting with the community and finding more socially-minded people through the Idealist Network. As an ideas guy, he’s even dreamed of something similar that would match people’s needs to other people’s skills, and make it easy to get involved.

“It was pretty much that first email I got from Ami,” he says. “I was like, ‘Oh! It’s here. Someone is building this network.’ ”

 

Stephen

Stephen at a recent Team meeting. (photo courtesy Ashifa Sarkar Vasi)

Stephen’s learned a lot about working with people as a result of all of the different roles he’s had over the years—from software developer to gas station attendant to Americorps teacher in a jail to, currently, restaurant manager. It’s in this last role that Stephen sees an especially good opportunity to become more engaged with Brusly as the owner is all about bringing the community together.

As part of the Baton Rouge Area Team, Stephen is hoping to share and learn with others who are as interested in connecting with their community as he is.

“Our local team is small, but we are pithy. It has been a great experience in co-leadership, as each of us brings something unique to the table that adds strength as well as perspective and balance,” he says.

Given his background in IT, Stephen is currently working on a wiki, blog, and map for the group.

He’s also been thinking about how to best categorize and make accessible all the resources, local events, public spaces, and good ideas happening in Baton Rouge for an inventory similar to the ones Brooklyn and San Diego created.

For Stephen, being a part of the Team also gives him the same satisfaction teaching does—that is, giving people an understanding and power they’ve never had before.

“The Connector role just seems so fundamental. You find out what’s good and then share it with other people looking for it,” he says. “That’s what I want to do. Empower others to get the things they want.”

Want to learn more about Stephen and his thoughts on community engagement? Feel free to get in touch.

Live in Baton Rouge? Join the Team! Live elsewhere? Look for a Connector Team near you or start one of your own.

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Tales of Tools and Tactics: Hold a 3Qs meeting

Tools and Tactics are replicable templates Connectors can use to multiply and amplify action and collaboration in their communities. We find they also make for great stories about people all over the world who are promoting good in interesting ways.

The goal of a 3Qs meeting is to surface people’s intentions by inviting them to share their answers to three short questions (the 3Qs):
  1. What do you care about/what do you want to do for the common good?
  2. What’s stopping you or getting in your way?
  3. What would help you take the next step?

Wherever you are, you can do the 3Qs as a one-time exercise to engage people in your community and find out what inspires or concerns them. Or you can make it a regular event—a way for people to connect in person and inspire follow-up.

Some Teams find the 3Qs especially good as a getting-to-know-you exercise at their first meeting. Below, Connector Ashifa Sarkar Vasi of Baton Rouge, Louisiana tells us about her experience when her Team did the 3Qs:

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Ashifa Sarkar Vasi

Q: What are some particular memories you have of doing the 3Qs exercise with your Team?

A: I had not really thought about how it would go. I went to the meeting expecting anything since I did not know my fellow Connectors. It was a surprisingly easy and comfortable meeting that set wheels in motion for ongoing conversations and meetings.

I remember that towards the end, despite our differences in passions, we all felt a sense of common desire to improve our local communities and the lives around us. And that it was a wonderful feeling to find like-minded individuals. We may be called Connectors, but that meeting connected us to each other in a powerful way.

To learn more, read the Tool and Tactic here. Interested in becoming a Connector? Get started here!

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Field Report! Team meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge’s Team may be small, but they have a lot of passion.

The city’s three Connectors, who have backgrounds ranging from global health, information technology, restaurant management, cultural anthropology, and youth development, met last week at a local coffee house to see how they could increase opportunities for action.

“We were all just so happy to connect with others who felt the same as us,” says Connector Karim Johnson.

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The State Capitol area in Baton Rouge
(photo courtesy Karim Johnson)

They started with the Three Questions (3Qs) Tool & Tactic, then talked about the skills and resources they each bring to the Team that can help their hometown. Though it covers a large geographical area, Baton Rouge doesn’t have a lot of nonprofits, social enterprises, or community groups.

“The Idealist Network is a highly-needed resource that can act as a catalyst to grow these types of groups so that communities can begin to shape their own change,” Karim says.

The Team’s next steps include defining the Connector role as they want to approach it, encouraging others to join the Network, and getting more people and organizations on Idealist.

They’re also in the early stages of developing their first public meeting and have committed to chatting in-person each week to keep the fire burning.

For Karim and others, the Network comes at an exciting moment in Baton Rouge’s history.

“There are so many young people and so much energy as the city is growing and rejuvenating,” Karim says. “It’s a good time to give people the tools to ensure it grows in a direction they envision.”

If you’re in Baton Rouge, join the Team! If you’re not, look for a Team—or start one—near you. And if you’re not a Connector yet, learn more and sign up here.

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