Mission, vision & invitation to 2nd strategic planning session

Strategic planning update & meeting invite

Back in January, a group of about 25 BWW members met at the Fletcher Free Library on a cold Saturday morning for a three-hour strategic planning session. Since then, the BWW board of directors has been incorporating that input into a revised mission statement and a draft statement of values. The board has also articulated four strategic initiatives to carry us forward based on broad input from membership. At a meeting on April 7, we hope to get feedback on this work and roll up our sleeves on next steps. This post includes:


The current mission

The membership and board have agreed strongly that the current mission statement does not work, either to be clear and memorable or to represent the core of who and what we are. Just as a reminder, here’s what it is:

  • The Burlington Writers Workshop’s mission is to provide writers with free learning opportunities that help them develop as artists and professional writers.

The statement is inadequately aspirational. “Help” is a weak word. The statement lacks the sense of community. And its emphasis on “free” suggests that price is a mission rather than a strategy. As reflected in the annual meeting and the large group strategic planning session, the workshops are not really free; we just don’t charge admission.

Our work on a new mission statement

We (I speak for the board here) asked ourselves first: What would an effective mission statement look like? How will we know when we have succeeded? We said it would be

  • Inspiring
  • Succinct, brief
  • Memorable

And it would:

  • State our larger purpose
  • Might include an actual or implied metaphor
  • Say clearly who we are

Some concepts we thought needed to be incorporated:

  • Support
  • Growth, learning
  • Community
  • Peers
  • Writing
  • Quality

What we agreed on after weeks of email and three hour of hard work face-to-face (see last section for all the options we generated before we got to this):

The Burlington Writers Workshop is a community of writers supporting writers to create their best work.

Values statements

The mission statement doesn’t stand on its own. It should have two partners: a vision statement (the difference we want to make in the world), and a set of values (what values are important to us in the way we carry out our mission and strive to fulfill our vision—essentially the “how”). For now, we have not tackled the vision statement, but the values are essential because the mission statement is so distilled and succinct. Here is our first brainstorm of our values with the intention to edit, distill, combine, improve and finalize at the April 7 meeting:

  • We/you ARE the BWW. There is no they.
  • We are collaborative inside and out.
  • Every member contributes and there are many ways to contribute.
  • No one is turned away.
  • We celebrate differences.
  • The ability to engage in honest dialogue and feedback strengthens us as writers and as people.
  • We value all voices
  • We are receptive to feedback and give it generously.
  • We treat each other with kindness and respect.
  • We seek to enlarge the literary conversation.
  • We seek opportunities to give back to the community through writing, literature and storytelling
  • We support all stages of writers’ growth.
  • Writing is an individual journey supported by community
  • We empower our membership to create new programming that meets emerging needs
  • We are flexible and adaptable
  • We have a place for all genres and all media, and for writing that breaks boundaries of genre and media
  • We facilitate connections among writers that may thrive within and beyond the BWW

Issues we “parked” for the future

Vermont vs Burlington: Should the organization consider a change of name to Vermont Writers Workshop to capture the fact that neither our membership nor our workshop locations is in anyway limited to Burlington or Chittenden County?

The grist we milled: the drafts that led up to the statement we agreed upon

We got to the draft that appears above through multiple steps of input and discussion. The input came from the annual meeting, the strategic planning session in January, and our own experience as active participants in the Burlington Writers Workshop. Partridge Boswell agreed to circulate a first draft, and we conducted a lively conversation via email about that draft, generating and offering additional ideas and observations. Lastly, we came together in a three-hour workshop where we further clarified what we wanted to achieve and worked with the raw material in front of us. The following is a list of all brainstorming leading up to the final draft.

  1. We provide Vermont writers with accessible opportunities to learn and practice their craft within an open, supportive and collaborative creative community.
  2. We inspire writers to learn and practice their craft within an open, supportive and collaborative creative community.
  3. We inspire writers to learn and grow within an open, supportive and collaborative creative community.
  4. We empower writers to learn and grow within an open, supportive and collaborative creative community.
  5. We empower writers to learn and grow within an open, supportive and collaborative creative community.
  6. We empower writers to learn and grow within an open and synergistic creative community.
  7. We empower writers to evolve within an open and synergistic creative community.
  8. We empower writers to evolve within a supportive creative community.
  9. We empower writers to evolve within a mutual creative community.
  10. Giving the power of writing and genuine creative community to all who seek it.
  11. Building a creative home that nurtures writers, poets, and storytellers of all kinds—so they can strengthen their voices and the larger literary conversation.
  12. Building a creative home for writers, poets, and storytellers of all kinds to strengthen their voices and the larger literary conversation.
  13. An accessible, supportive, collaborative community dedicated to the learning and practice of all kinds of writing by every person who wants to write.
  14. We foster writers’ growth—from inspiration to publication—through workshops, discussion, publishing, and exposure to established writers. We engage in the mutually vital conversation between writers and audiences through readings, performances, and partnerships with community organizations.
  15. Bringing writers and storytellers of all kinds into conversation and community.
  16. Creating space for writers and storytellers of all kinds to grow from wherever they are and become whatever they want to be.
  17. Helping writers and storytellers of all kinds to find their voices and their creative home.
  18. Where authors improve their work through shared encouragement and an exchange of ideas.
  19. Where writers nurture each other’s craft with insight and encouragement.
  20. Where writers nurture each other’s craft with insight and encouragement against all odds.
  21. Where readers, writers, and editors find inspiration!
  22. Where readers, writers, and editors inspire each other to create their best work.
  23. Where all those who write can learn, practice, find community and be inspired.
  24. To create a community that supports the needs of all Vermont writers.
  25. The Burlington Writers Workshop grows writers.
  26. Cultivating writers from seed to blossom.
  27. An open space for all writers to grow and blossom.
  28. We encourage Vermonters to write stories that inspire a community of artists and dreamers.
  29. Where Vermont writers learn, grow and collaborate
  30. A responsive community where Vermont writers learn and grow
  31. Where Vermont writers help each other learn and grow
  32. Where Vermont writers flourish
  33. Cultivating all kinds of Vermont writers in a thriving literary community
  34. Nurturing Vermont writers at all stages of their careers
  35. Meeting the needs of all kinds of Vermont Writers
  36. Giving the power of writing and the joy of creative community to all who seek it
  37. Where writers find their voices and listen to others
  38. An open and collaborative community of writers supporting writers to create their best work

Whew!

Strategic planning

The board has developed the outlines of four strategic initiatives that reflect input from the January session, member survey, annual meeting and informal conversations. Below is a graphic of the concepts on which we hope to get feedback and gauge interest in participation at our second strategic planning session on April 7, 10 am to 1 pm at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington. >>RSVP here for the 4/7 meeting.

Strategic Initiatives

Draft 2018-2019 strategic initiatives

 

 

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