The Long Haul

The blog this week was written by Deborah Warfield and Jennifer Goodwill, Community Brokers at The Arcadia Institute. In our previous blogs, we discussed creating MAPS and PATHS with individuals to focus on future goals and dreams. This week's blog will explore the "beyond MAP/PATH" portion of the process of Community Brokering called Follow Alongs. This portion is where members of the Community Circle, including the participant, continue to work as an ongoing support system towards reaching the identified goals.

Action steps, which are identified at the end of each MAP or PATH, help to move the new ideas and information that bubble up from the MAP or PATH into reality for the individual. The Action Steps are the flexible mile markers or candles along the pathway toward an individual’s dream. To more closely maintain an accurate pulse of forward movement, Follow Alongs serve as periodic check-ins.

When an individual is dreaming about their future, we recognize that there is not a straight line between where the person is today and where they want to be tomorrow. By that, we mean that things happen along the way that one can’t plan for or predict, but we can’t lose sight of the dream.

We recognize up front that there are going to be obstacles or challenges that will require troubleshooting. There will be times that the individual may become discouraged or lose their focus. Maybe the individual will even discover that what they thought they wanted changes as doors are opened to new opportunities in our community that they never knew existed. This is where having a Follow Along gathering becomes so valuable.

For a Follow Along, we invite the people who participated in the individual’s MAP or PATH meeting to come together once again. The individual may even want to have new people they have met join them. At this gathering, the action steps become the agenda items to be discussed. We learn about which action steps have been accomplished, which ones are in progress and which ones need to be added. We look at the progress that is being made toward the individual’s dream, and we plan the next steps that need to be taken to move the person forward. The Follow Alongs are meaningful because they allow the individual to celebrate their successes, talk through their challenges and stay focused on their future.

Each Follow Along meeting is as unique as each particular individual and their circumstances. The frequency of them varies from person to person. For some, it is most helpful to meet every month. For others, getting together every six months makes more sense. But what never changes is the need to be sensitive as to when the next Follow Along should occur.

As Community Brokers, we consistently maintain contact with the individual and their community connections, helping the individual along the way to their dreams. But, we don’t want to ever take the place of their Community Circle. It is their friends, family and community relationships that will sustain them and add sweet meaning to their lives long after Community Brokering has launched them into their desirable future. Follow Alongs act as the glue along the way to strengthen and grow those relationships for the future.