Brown County is semifinalist for community-building program

Brown County is a semifinalist for the state’s Hometown Collaboration Initiative.

The HCI is intended to bring a diverse group of residents together to learn to cooperate, become better leaders and gather critical data that will help them guide decisions about their community’s future.

“It will challenge Brown Countians to work together to overcome past differences and past failures, and to join their disparate voices in defining what positive change here can and should be,” reads Brown County’s application. “If we are selected, this initiative offers the county the opportunity to live up to the potential its assets suggest is there and offers its residents the chance to contribute to success.”

The HCI program is delivered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Ball State University’s Indiana Communities Institute and Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development.

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If Brown County is chosen as a recipient, it will be provided with a “community coach” from one of those agencies, and the local volunteers on the HCI team will receive dozens of hours of training and facilitation.

That process is could last about a year.

Afterward, the team will choose one of three “building blocks” to focus on — economy, leadership or “placemaking” — and pick a community project.

About 20 people stepped up to be part of the initial HCI team before the program application was due March 31, but more can still get involved. Those who have not been involved before, or have stepped away because of burnout, are especially invited to contribute, the HCI application says.

The next step will be site visits by the state HCI team on April 11 or 12. Each of the six semifinalist community teams will have 90 minutes to further elaborate on their opportunities for the program and how it can contribute to long-term success.

The presentation will start at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 12 in the lower level of the Brown County Public Library. The public is welcome.

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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.