ICBI and Scott VanKirk
“I find it fascinating that the same principles learned from ICBI apply to a completely different culture halfway around the world in Kenya...not only did ICBI teach, it inspired.”
In 2005, Scott VanKirk, then President with the Watson-McCord Neighborhood Association (now Watson Park Neighborhood Association) in the Mid-North Quality of Life Neighborhood, enrolled in the inaugural offering of INRC’s newly revised leadership development program, the Indianapolis Community Building Institute (ICBI). At his ICBI graduation, Scott reflected upon his growing engagement and leadership with his neighborhood by noting: “I stopped asking, ‘When is someone going to take care of that?’ and realized that I can. I am the one I’ve been waiting for.”
While in ICBI, Scott was working with neighbors and partners on beautifying McCord Park and installing a memorial to honor Officer William Whitfield, the first known African-American law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in the state of Indiana. Utilizing skills gained in ICBI, Scott trained his neighbors in Appreciative Inquiry techniques, and neighbors went door to door talking with fellow neighbors about their skills and vision of the neighborhood. He successfully improved relationships in the neighborhood and engaged new neighbors in the Association.
Since 2005, Scott has served as President of the Board of Indy Pride, and continued to engage with many community events, as an active resident and activist, and owner of an arts organization. In 2011, Scott moved to Eldoret, Kenya, and became involved with Imani Workshops. Scott describes his experience re-engaging members of the group with the neglected and rundown workshop as focusing upon building trust, ensuring everyone has a voice, and successfully facilitating difficult and at times hostile, conversation.
The result? “We now had a place that we could be proud of as a group, and you almost instantly saw a different attitude in the workshop … (members in the workshop were now) building and focusing on the positives of the community.” Scott writes.
“I actually found many parallels to what happens in many neighborhoods.” Scott reflects. “Many engagement tools that I learned in ICBI were used, if not directly, (they) were taught to the female leaders to get group feedback on what kind of workshop they wanted. Truly building a sense of where everyone has a voice in the direction and vision of the workshop. I find it fascinating that the same principles learned from ICBI apply to a completely different culture halfway around the world in Kenya.”
During his 2005 ICBI graduation speech, Scott said, “Not only did ICBI teach, it inspired.” In his neighborhood, around the city and now around the world, we are proud to celebrate that Scott continues to serve as an inspiration.