For the Love of Colorado – Panel Discussion

Earlier this month, we hosted an event at BUILD with General Assembly and EforAll. We invited a panel of speakers from nonprofits in Denver to answer the question, “how can we empower all Colorado companies to use business as a force for good?”

The conversation quickly became a discussion on the importance of community, how to find it, and what a stronger sense of community means for Denver. The love was surely felt across the state, and the wisdom from the panel was too good not to share. Here’s what we learned:

Bill Byrnes from GoodCinema prompted the audience to reframe the way we think about ROI to focus on a “return on impact” instead. Impact happens by every single person doing something to better their community. He believes the definition of community is real human connection, the type of connection that makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

Shontel Lewis from Denver Public Schools and RTD challenged the group to be in more rooms where you don’t know anyone. Expand your circles, and strive to experience things you normally wouldn’t experience in your daily life. Shontel believes that Denver is in need of more love, trust and healing; and one way to do that is to get to know your neighbors better. Exchange stories, create safe spaces to have grounded conversations, and say yes to the invitation to meet someone new.

Tim Reinen from Radian encouraged the importance of getting involved at the local level, and for individuals and organizations to work collectively with a mission to better someone’s life. He shared that we are lucky to live in a city that accepts and welcomes good ideas, which should motivate us to voice these ideas, and continue to speak up about ways to support our community.

Christi Smith from Urban Land Conservancy reinforced the idea that community is all about the people, and there is power in sharing stories. In community development work, it’s critical to learn about the fabric of the neighborhoods you’re working in, and seek out ways to make a difference that are truly needed.

Anne Behlouhi from The Alliance Center shared the importance of truly listening to your community in order to determine what the real issues are. In order to do community work, you must strive to understand new perspectives. She also shared her hope in the growing social impact space in Colorado.

Throughout the evening, many community resources, organizations and events were mentioned. It honor of sharing the love, that list includes:

  • Write Club
  • The Narrators
  • Warm Cookies of the Revolution
  • OneTable
  • Soul Stories
  • Purple Door Coffee
  • Prodigy Coffee
  • DoneGood

Keeping with the theme, our moderator Harris Rollinger from EforAll, challenged the room to meet one new person after the panel was over and learn something new about them. As a result, our space was buzzing with energy for an hour after the event was supposed to end, with a renewed sense of authentic connection vibrating throughout the building.

I’ll end this post with a question that was posed by someone in the audience: “How many of you can name all of the people who live within 500 feet of you?”

Next time you meet someone new, ask if they want to grab tea or a beer. Share your story and ask for theirs. With a focus on love and humanity, we can create a deeper sense of community in Colorado and beyond.