KC Belitz: What you should know about ‘Active Hope’

Originally published in the Columbus Telegram

This region unleashed some active hope last night!

Nebraska Community Foundation staff and volunteers gathered in Leigh for the first NCF regional event of 2021 and the first such event in-person in more than a year.

I’m confident that not everyone knows the phrase “Active Hope.” Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone wrote a book about it in 2012 and NCF consultant Dr. Kathy Allen has helped us indoctrinate this concept into our community development practice.

So what does it mean? At Nebraska Community Foundation, we say the phrase is both a noun and a verb. In its noun form, it’s “proactive optimism for the future.” Those with regular hope simply sit back and wish things were better. As a verb, it means “creating one’s own destiny.”

Since I think in simpler terms, I’d say Active Hope means we don’t just go to meetings to talk about what’s wrong but rather we go to the meeting to decide what to do to make things right.

Volunteers came together last night to create their own destiny and to help their neighbors do the same. People from NCF affiliated funds in Howells, Leigh, Boone County, Butler County, Newman Grove and the Lakeview Education Fund worked and thought together about how to unleash active hope in their communities.

The evening included some tactical training from NCF on topics such as raising funds for a community unrestricted endowment, marketing resources available from NCF, and how to pursue engaging youth in your community. That all created great conversation, but as usual the really good stuff came not as much from the tactical but more from the chances for communities to dream together about changing their future.

A tip of the hat to Dr. Paul Madison, an NCF Board member from Nebraska City, who made the trip to Leigh to start the night with a presentation on Active Hope. Paul is our “Active Hope apostle” so starting an evening with him gets people fired up about taking action to turn their hopes into their future realities! In fact, in addition to Paul there were NCF Board members attending from Wahoo, Norfolk, Albion and Newman Grove, which is a great example of the kind of commitment NCF enjoys from the Board as they live out their Active Hope for our state.

The evening ended with each affiliated fund present working on what we’re calling an “Active Hope summer project.” Each of these groups have taken on the challenge to put into action what they learned last night by undertaking a project in their community to unleash some local Active Hope. For some it may be a tangible project like a building or a garden. For others, it will be an initiative to engage their community’s youth. And in other cases it’s going to be building a relationship that is needed to create progress. But in every case, the project is doing more than wishing. And that’s what we call Active Hope!

More News

All News

Meet 10-year-old rural Bassett resident Noah Seberger

Youth engagement in Leigh

Celebrating 20 years of giving