Guest Column-South Fork Community Heart & Soul: A catalyst for positive change

By now, we hope that many of you have heard about South Fork’s latest initiative – Community Heart & Soul. In case you haven’t though, here’s what it is in a nutshell:
Community Heart & Soul is a nationally recognized community development model founded by the Orton Family Foundation. The tried-and-tested project has been implemented in many small towns across the country in the past decade, including Golden and Cortez, here in Colorado. South Fork has adopted this model to create the South Fork Community Heart & Soul project.
The project is a bottom-up/grassroots approach to town planning and development that fosters community engagement. It seeks to tap into the local wisdom of our residents so that everyone can have a meaningful impact in shaping the future of South Fork.
Currently, we are about seven months into our community development project. We’ve learned a lot, made many connections and have had fun along our journey in Phase I called “Lay the Groundwork.” Here’s a look at what we’ve accomplished thus far:
We formed a South Fork Heart & Soul team and new people continue to express interest and attend meetings to learn more. We continue to invite any and all who are interested in joining the South Fork Heart & Soul team or to simply attend a meeting to learn how you can be a part of the team.
We hired Angela Lee as community development coordinator, a vital resource as this position essentially serves as the glue that keeps this initiative moving forward.
We developed a community network analysis, a key aspect of Community Heart & Soul. This powerful tool takes an in-depth look at who is in our community and who connects various groups. It helps the heart & soul team identify missing voices and discover ways to reach and engage them.
A website has been established:, and we are in the process of setting up a Facebook page and publishing our first newsletter. Please visit the website to learn more and find out when our next meeting is by clicking on the calendar tab. While you’re at it, sign up to receive the newsletter or email Angela at [email protected] if you have questions or want to get involved.
We’re gearing up for training and implementation of phase 2 – Explore Your Community.
Here’s a quick peek phase 2: The essential elements of this phase are to gather stories and other information indicating “what matters most” from all segments of our community – using multiple methods tailored to residents’ culture and preferences. It focuses on deep resident engagement, discovering and embracing emotional connections within our community and creating a foundation for hope that leads to new energy and excitement for action in our town. We are very excited about phase 2 because it truly is a journey of discovery and relationship building and has the capacity to create transformations at both the individual and community level!
We look forward to having you get on board the South Fork Heart & Soul team and join us!

Becki Helmstetler is a South Fork resident and Community Heart & Soul team member.

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