Bethesda, Md. (PRWEB) June 12, 2013
On Dec. 14, 2012, a community and nation were left stunned when a gunman massacred 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Debate over gun laws went into overdrive and have gripped lawmakers and the country in the intervening months.
In the meantime, a community has buried its dead, continues to grieve and is also moving forward with the help of community change expert Rich Harwood, founder and president of the nonprofit Harwood Institute for Public Innovation based in Bethesda, Md. The Harwood Institute is a national nonprofit organization that teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.
In early 2013, Newtown’s elected leader First Selectwoman E. Pat Llodra asked Rich to help the town figure out how to resolve the agonizing issue of what to do with the Sandy Hook School. Rich, who worked closely with Pat and other town leaders, led the community through a process that culminated last month when a 28-person, ad-hoc committee of elected officials decided unanimously to raze and rebuild the school on the same site.
Rich, who has 25 years of experience helping communities deal with difficult changes, said he was struck throughout the process and his many visits to Newtown by the overwhelming sense of compassion people demonstrated toward each other.
“Working with the people of Newtown was a painful yet awe-inspiring experience,” Rich said. “They faced a series of difficult choices head-on, with grace and dignity.”
He listened attentively as parents of Sandy Hook first-graders, business people, a high school student and others stepped forward to express gut-wrenching concerns about whether to return to the current school site, what it would take to deal with lasting effects of trauma on children and how to bring about stability in the community.
Having served as a catalyst for change in thousands of communities from Battle Creek, Mich. to Youngstown, Ohio and Las Vegas, Nev., Newtown stood out to Rich as an inspiration for people experiencing profound transformation.
The school board is scheduled to consider that decision, which will be followed by a town referendum.
Rich is available to speak about how the people of Newtown have been dealing with the trauma they have experienced, and how to make sense of all that’s happened since Dec. 14. He can be reached at rharwood(at)theharwoodinstitute(dot)org or 301-656-3669 (office) or 301-529-9344 (cell).
Read Rich’s Op-ed, “Newtown community sticks together through despair” in the New Haven Register. You can also Read Rich's latest book The Work of Hope.
More about Rich Harwood
Rich Harwood is the founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a national nonprofit organization that teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.
Rich’s transformational work has spread to thousands of communities nationally and worldwide – from small towns to large cities – by applying concrete methods he created and honed over the past 25 years. These proven practices are based on hands-on work with individuals, organizations and communities in their quest to create change. Rich's talks, coaching techniques and practical guides have provided the hope and inspiration for individuals and groups to improve their public and private lives.
A visionary with the ability to help people identify obstacles and tap their aspirations, Rich has inspired hundreds of audiences as he shares his philosophy of what it takes to be relevant and connected in today's world. Rich is also a prolific author whose books and guides include The Work of Hope: How Individuals and Organizations Can Authentically Do Good; Hope Unraveled; Make Hope Real; and Why We’re Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When They Turn Outward.
He has also written numerous studies and articles that chronicle the most vital issues of our time, and has appeared on national media including MSNBC, NPR, CNN's Inside Politics, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Special Report with Brit Hume and C-SPAN. Learn more about Rich and his inspirational personal journey.
Rich Harwood, rharwood(at)theharwoodinstitute(dot)org; 301-656-3669 (office) or 301-529-9344 (cell)
Jennifer Packer, jpacker(at)theharwoodinstitute(dot)org, 301-656-3669 (office)