Building community in the barn: RESULTS Triangle group comes together

June 2, 2023
by Laura Labarre

When RESULTS Triangle came into being in 2022, the group knit together several distinct communities still grappling with aspects of pandemic disruption. Formerly separate groups spanning the “Triangle” area of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham), the Triangle group shared passion to end poverty, experience with lobbying, but never the same physical space. “The full group had never met face-to-face, in-person,” said Ruth Thurmond Scott, advocate and co-group leader. While it is a modern miracle of our current times that an advocacy group can exist and engage in policy change before ever meeting in person, RESULTS Triangle knew it was time to build that next level of community. 

Lillian Mindich, another advocate and co-group leader with RESULTS Triangle, had recently acquired a barn featuring an event space, and she knew it would be the ideal space for an in-person meeting. “I take every chance I get to use the property in ways that are community-generating,” said Lillian. With a destination and a date in mind, the group embarked on a planning process that would prove just as valuable as the event itself. 

Crafting the attendee list became a ripe opportunity for outreach to prospective new advocates. To extend invitations outside of existing RESULTS Triangle members, the group tapped into the “warm leads” list. This is a list of people nearby who indicated interest in RESULTS and provided their contact information. Even though some of the “warm leads” dated back over three years, Ruth found almost all their contact information was current and interest in the event blossomed. “We tried to make entry really easy,” said Ruth. To appeal to prospective and newer advocates, they themed the event “Advocacy 101,” which “offer[ed] people a value-add to come to our first meeting,” explained Lillian. 

Not only did RESULTS Triangle grow relationships with “warm leads,” but the event planning process also built community among themselves. Advocates learned more about each other — their knowledge, interests, and backgrounds. Ruth described one member of their group who volunteered to give a presentation on advocacy techniques because he coaches people on lobbying strategies for his job: “If we had not been talking about this particular event, I would not have known about [his] expertise!” Through offering up skills, resources, and time, the group grew closer and more familiar with each other. “In the planning, the group members really stepped up,” said Ruth. 

And as for the event itself… Lillian said that it absolutely strengthened their sense of community as hoped. “We did really get a good chance to all sit down together and get to know each other […] It made people feel more three dimensional. It still feels different in person, so it gave people a reason to come,” she said. Invitees and community members who were not even originally on the invitation list ended up attending, creating an invigorating mix of seasoned RESULTS advocates and new voices. Lillian added, “We ended up having really great discussions. That was the bright spot — seeing people interested in what we were doing and feeling hopeful.” 

The RESULTS Triangle’s “Advocacy 101 in the Barn” event is inspiring for many reasons, but especially because it reminds us that coming together fosters hope. Our individual hopes that we can and will create change are more powerful when pooled together. Building community harmonizes our collective calls for action, propelling us toward a future without poverty. 

For more information about how to put on an in-person RESULTS event in your local area, please email Joanna DiStefano ([email protected]).

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