A Most Amazing Client

A Most Amazing Client

By Bobbie Hill

Community Engagement is a fundamental component of all of our work at Concordia. The very nature of that component of our work means that we kind of have two clients – the one with which we have a contract and the community that is participating in the engagement for planning and design.

The rural town of Wisconsin Rapids resides in central Wisconsin.  The Incourage Community Foundation serves this community and surrounding towns in south Wood County.

I dare say that this foundation is doing the most important work of all Community Foundations across the country and is setting the national example for mission centered philanthropic giving. This is a community that, through the leadership of the foundation, is building a new economy and a community that works well for all people.

Incourage purchased the Tribune Building in early 2013. This facility was formerly home to the local newspaper and radio station. The building sits on the beautiful Wisconsin River in the heart of a struggling downtown. Incourage hired Concordia to facilitate the community engaging in a process to repurpose this iconic facility.  This effort is now known as the Tribune Building Project . This project serves as a physical manifestation of the foundation’s commitment to the values of Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity.

To date, over 700 community members have been involved in determining the programming for the 20,000 sq. ft. building and they continue to be involved in the design of the renovation. The project has received a national ArtPlace grant award of $400,000 to integrate art into the design to tell the community’s story.

I have worked as a professional who facilitates authentic community engagement for over 30 years.  It is rare to witness such robust growth in a real sense of community.  Residents are exhibiting a level of confidence and maturity in their ability to be meaningful contributing partners in ongoing efforts to build a resilient place to live, work and play.  At the same time, they are creating fertile ground for economic and personal growth.

During a recent visit we worked with the Tribune Building Project Team at Incourage to create the “elevator speech” for the project as it moves into full-scale design.

The Tribune Building is a Community Incubator that helps shape a new economy and community that works well for all people. This space advances:

  • The value and importance of relationships and human potential;
  • An environment that fosters risk and accepts failure;
  • Creativity and innovation.

Now, wouldn’t you like to go there? Be there? Even possibly live there? Can you see why Concordia thinks this is a most amazing client?


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