Our team concluded the Listening Project in mid March. We listened to community organizers, musicians, pastors, professors, students, teachers, CEOs, farmers, dancers, mothers, restaurant owners, lawyers, makers, fathers, long time residents and new Bendites. We listened to people share the truth of their experience living here, and their insights on how to contribute. We listened to honor our community and to locate our place in this ecosystem. Thank you to those of you who shared your time and your voice with us.

We are so grateful for the listening team: Kimberly Smythe (founder), Carli Smythe (me), Breyn Hibbs, Janice Hughes, Aly Waibel, Terri MacDonald, Ilima Furey, and Piper Lucas. Everyone on this team committed themselves to learning and offering the art of listening to our community. We started with a 3 day training with expert listener and facilitator Shannon Thompson, and then deepened our practice with every listen.

We learned that listening can be transformative. It opens up a space for honesty and vulnerability. The art of listening asks you to put your opinions aside for the sake of witnessing another. We aren’t trained to do that in this world, are we? It’s something valuable to learn and practice and practice.

We gathered 16 notebooks of interview notes over at least 300 hours of listening to more than 150 people. As is good practice in qualitative research, we took a break from the data for two whole months. The notebooks have been patiently waiting for me to return to them, to code them, and to interpret our findings. That work starts now.

With Love,

Carli Ilima Smythe