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Button It Up

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

Over the past few months, I have had the privilege to meet with Family Resiliency educators to reflect on the amazing work that happened in 2015 and to look ahead to what is happening in 2016. A key takeaway from these conversations is just how ever-evolving our work really is. As I reflected on the meetings, I realized that the dynamic nature of our work is both an opportunity and challenge.

The dynamic nature of our work gives us the opportunity to do three things.

  1. Work on the cutting edge of addressing new and emerging needs of Minnesota families and communities.
  2. Take times to develop new partnerships, such as being part of local or regional partnerships or connecting with a community partner over morning coffee.
  3. Seek out and attend professional development opportunities to keep us abreast of new research, resources, and skills we need be successful in our work.

But the dynamism of our work can also be a challenge. There are so many new opportunities to explore and existing commitments to honor that sometimes we forget to come up for air. We do not always make the time to bring closure to one project before we start the next. In Family Resiliency, this process of tying up loose ends has become known as "buttoning it up," a phrase coined by the eloquent Trish Olson during a collective plan of work meeting last December.

In other words, as a program or project ends, we need to make time to reflect and write that report or summary to share with others — both internally and externally. We need to ask ourselves, “What incremental change happened because of my work? What did I learn through this process? What did participants take away? Where did I have the greatest impact? What is the contribution to the field? How can I share this work and with whom?”

Dynamic comes from the Greek word dynamikos, meaning “powerful.” The work we do with Minnesota families and communities is indeed powerful, and I challenge you to take a few hours or an entire day this spring to harness and define that power, to button up that work, and to embrace the opportunities and challenges of this ever-evolving work of ours.

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