The Work of Hope in Youngstown, Ohio

Americans want to rebuild trust, relationships and confidence across lines that divide. In 2012, Rich Harwood visited 12 communities across the country and spoke with a cross-section of America. What he found is that fixing politics or even the economy won’t fix what is broken in the country. Hear Rich Harwood discuss his book, "The Work of Hope, and his innovative concepts at Main Library on Feb. 12.

Harwood is kicking off his 2013 community tour in Youngstown, because he believes it is a community that has the potential to be a beacon in the nation showing that change can occur when people come together around common goals and work with each other, not against one another.

Library Director Heidi Daniel is pleased that the national tour is kicking off here in Youngstown, Ohio, at the Main Library, 305 Wick Ave. "Libraries transform communities in so many ways," she says. "I believe libraries are important to community engagement and I am looking forward to our library system continuing to be a catalyst in effecting change here in Mahoning County. By striving to understand our community's aspirations and bringing together community partners, we can collaborate to solve problems and bring about positive change in our community."

Harwood is going on this national tour because he knows people feel alone and isolated, without hope. He wants to show people that there is a different way to live, that by turning outward toward their community, they can help create the environment that we all aspire towards.

This tour stop continues Rich Harwood's work in Youngstown, following his work around the Academic Distress Commission and helping the Wean Foundation and Youngstown Foundation find ways to help the public school system.

This appearance by Rich Harwood is funded by leaders throughout the community, including the Wean Foundation, Meridian Community Care, Park Vista, Sid Jones, Carlton Sears, Clarence Smith Jr., Tim Bresnahan, and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, all of whom have faith in the people of Youngstown.

Rich Harwood is founder and president of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, Bethesda, MD. After nearly 25 years of innovation, one-the-ground efforts and groundbreaking research, The Harwood Institute knows what it takes to get things done in communities and strengthen our civic culture. Today, the Harwood approach is being used by tens of thousands of individuals in communities across the U.S. and around the globe, deepening their impact in their communities and bringing about positive change.

The Harwood Institute has had an impact on the Greater Youngstown Area. Eleven years ago, with support from the C.S. Mott Foundation, the Harwood Institute released, "Waiting for the Future: Creating New Possibilities for Youngstown." After this report was published, a number of organizations, groups and leaders began to adopt the Harwood approach on their own and pockets of change emerged as community leaders stepped forward. Recently, the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation asked the Harwood Institute to work with local leaders and groups to engage the community around its expectations for Youngstown City Schools. From numerous conversations, it was clear that people share a set of common aspirations for Youngstown and a deep belief in the potential of its people.

The collection of innovative leaders, organizations and growing pockets of change suggest that the Youngstown area is poised to accelerate and become a beacon - a sign of what's possible - for not only the Mahoning Valley, but well beyond. (