Our Fall 2021 KAN Cohort!

by Elizabeth Ramirez

“You don’t know what you need, if you don’t know what you have”

Left to right: Elizabeth, Adam, Emily, Finn, Les, Estella, Alexandra, Anne, Maria, Isidro. *not pictured: Ngoc

Last weekend we started our Fall 2021 Kansas Animator Network (KAN) cohort! If you want to know more about our KAN program, click here.

We have a total of 9 Animators in this cohort from the following areas in Kansas: Florence, Garden City, Wichita, and Manhattan. Due to COVID-19 precautions, we met virtually instead of in-person and during that time we built a cohort Gifts Garden and discussed how to engage in community organizing from a strengths perspective instead of a needs perspective. Here are the gifts we discovered during our time together: 

Gifts of the Head: things you know so well you can teach others
  • Organization skills
  • Delicious homemade barbecue 
  • First aid and crisis response
  • Sexual assault prevention
  • Research methods
  • Metal  jewelry
  • Mental health policy
  • Resume building
  • How to solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Teaching math
Gifts of the Heart: something you are so passionate about that you have taken action on it
  • Prevention and intervention around substance abuse and misuse
  • Creating supportive systems for LBGTQ youth
  • Statewide BBQ competitions and using that to create community
  • Creating a more open and honest dialogue around immigration policies 
  • Empowering first generation immigrants 
  • Breaking barriers at a senior center using bilingual work
  • Multiculturalism and the decision-making that happens in health
  • Being a part of HALO to connect with people in their communities around immigration, fundraising, navigating higher education forms
  • Love to center the earth around health. Connecting to indigenous communities and their practices around connecting with the earth.
Gifts of the Hands: something you like to create
  • Music
  • Gardening
  • Writing
  • Salsa dancing
  • Painting to create memories with others
  • Lego building
  • Teaching 
  • 3D printing
  • Circuits  
  • Connecting people 
  • Creating unity and community by finding commonalities
  • Creating and fostering space by being a neutral mediator
  • Creating artwork that can resonate with people by capturing the spirit of a group

In the mix of our Gifts Garden, we also had an enriching discussion on community organizing. A quote that resonated with many of the Animators was “you don’t know what you need if you don’t know what you have” from the John McKnight podcast episode here. The Animators shared how important it is for individual gifts to be connected in order for them to be activated and bring value to the community. We’ll be sharing more of their stories as they begin their journey in discovering, connecting, and creating opportunities for the gifts in their community!

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