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Circles Initiative of Pagosa Springs — changing the mindset

A key component of the Circles Initiative is intervening at both the individual and community levels to end poverty.

By facilitating and supporting intentional relationships across socioeconomic lines, Circles® will build our community of Pagosa Springs into a caring people who want to end poverty.

Community members who have been prepared through a series of orientations like Bridges out of Poverty are organizing into Circles around families living in poverty. The allies are providing a hand up to help remove barriers for families with low income to move out of poverty. The families also receive training and make commitments to leadership development, community involvement and reciprocity. The teams will soon begin to take on obstacles and barriers that one Circle Leader cannot tackle alone, such as living wages, affordable housing, child care and affordable transportation.

A focus of Circles is to define what it means to be economically self-sufficient in one’s own community and the pathways to get there. As part of the Circles Initiative, there are weekly community meetings with food and child care (Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Community United Methodist Church).

The content of the fourth meeting of the month is reserved to discuss big picture community issues, called the “Big View” meetings. Big View meetings are educational and focus on changing the mindset of the community. The Big View meetings are results-oriented, making systemic changes with action plans to address barriers that families in poverty experience. The Big View meetings are used to address all causes of poverty.

Outcomes from the Circles Initiatives Big View meetings in sites across the nation have included:

• A Circle Ally in Missouri sat on a board of the local municipal utilities and took a stand against raising reconnection fees which prevented an additional financial burden being placed on low-income households

• Circles in Adams County, Pa., used the Big View process to investigate the wage gap and the cliff effect as Circle Leaders began to increase income but their subsidies decreased.

The Circles Campaign is building momentum throughout the nation using the Big View process to educate and advocate for an end to poverty.

I encourage you to join in the vibrant dialogue about what people need to get out of poverty, and what our community must do to eliminate the conditions that created it in the first place.

The Big View meetings are a way to act on the moral imperative that poverty is not acceptable in Pagosa Springs.

Please call 264-5517 if you want to volunteer to become a part of this engaging, growing initiative in Pagosa Springs.

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