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April 24, 2013

Author Rich Harwood speaks on spurring positive change

ANDERSON, Ind. — Rich Harwood is on a mission of hope.

As part of his “The Work of Hope: How Individuals and Organizations Can Authentically Do Good” book tour, Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, is traveling the country, speaking to communities about how focusing on needs other than one’s own can spur positive change and help turn the tide against economic and social woes.

“I think we face a lot of obstacles in our communities now,” he said. “If we’re going to move forward, we need to turn outward, toward each other. ... We all own a part of the challenges we face.”

Wednesday, Harwood’s tour brought him to Madison County, where he gave two talks: one at Anderson Public Library and another at the East Main Street Christian Church in Elwood. Both were sponsored by the United Way of Madison County.

Harwood said he chose to speak here because he “saw the potential of the community” while working with the local United Way on income initiatives last year. Their work, he said, is a “great example of what can be achieved in Anderson when people start acting with members of the community rather than focusing on their own agendas” — one way in which communities can affect positive change, he said.

As an example, he polled locals on their hopes, dreams and challenges.

During his talk at APL, their quotes were posted around the room, speaking on volunteerism, education and the need for “a greater focus on children and family relationships.”

Listening to others can help us to know our own communities, he said, which helps identify problems and how to solve them.

That’s done by, “engaging organizations and individuals to think about what’s possible if we decide to do something together,” said Nancy Vaughan, president of the United Way of Madison County. She said working with Harwood has helped make that happen locally.

“Over the past two years as we’ve been using the Harwood tools,” she said, “I have been amazed at the opportunities that have been unveiled, and am excited that we can share this inspirational work with everyone in Madison County.”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and on Twitter @BayleeNPulliam, or call 648-4250.

The United Way of Madison County places local volunteers in areas ranging from disaster relief, to mentoring, to animal care. For more information on how to volunteer, contact them at 643-7493, or go online to VolunteerMadisonCounty.org.

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