Edge of Amazing: Transforming Community with Kindness, Intention and Courage

23 Aug 2021

EASC is proud to have been a part of Edge of Amazing, a Health and Well-being Summit for Snohomish County presented by Providence Institute for a Healthier Community (PIHC), as it convened to celebrate 5 years of collaboration on October 2. The event was host to a progressive assembly of individuals from both public and private organizations, all gathered with the intent to make Snohomish County a healthier and happier place to live.
This forward-thinking symposium offered a space for cautious optimism, both championing the success Snohomish County has seen through its multi-faceted approach to health and well-being, while also addressing some concerning results from the 2019 Snohomish County State of Well-Being Index, particularly regarding mental health and the opioid crisis, both of which were given precedence in the morning and afternoon break-out sessions.

Bob Drewel (WSU Everett), Mel Sheldon (Tulalip Tribes), and Scott Forslund (PIHC) guided the program with a unique brand of light-hearted sincerity and scintillating enthusiasm that was both palpable and inspiring. The audience was asked to set an intention of kindness when approaching the difficult topics ahead, our neighbors, and those who had come to share their expertise; Bob, Mel, and Scott embody this value wholly- a huge debt of gratitude is owed to these three men for all they have done and continue to do for Snohomish County.

Each presentation, panel discussion, and interaction could consume a considerable amount of space in any major publication, but the key takeaways include:

  1. We must approach community issues with intent, humility, and courage. Keynote speaker, Michelle L. Buck (Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University), delivered a presentation on the transformative power of “Courageous Conversations.” We must not shy away from difficult topics or diverging ideas and/or interests, but instead embrace disagreement, without intent to change minds, but with intent to find common ground. Michelle included this quote from poet and mystic, Rumi, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
  2. We must truly value diversity, instead of viewing it as another box to check with the intent of “looking good” or appearing as “virtuous.” It is not just about bringing diversity to the table, it is about the position(s) you allow diversity to have at the table. The afternoon keynote speaker, Chanin Kelly-Rae (Providence St. Joseph Health System) stressed that there is never a community without a voice; there are communities who have been silenced or denied the ability to exert their will.
  3. “Community is our best technology,” as Scott Forslund said during his presentation on the 2019 Well-Being Index. It is easy to define issues, such as mental health or the opioid crisis, as impertinent because they seemingly do not affect us directly or personally. This view is myopic at best, as over 50% of respondents indicated that they had been affected by both issues in some way. It is no longer “them” it is “us” and we are now responsible to enact real sustainable change through community collaboration- on both the micro and macro levels.

Economic Alliance Snohomish County will continue to partner in improving the health and well-being of Snohomish County, and beyond.