By the Solid Ground Team

Social distancing is a vital practice during a pandemic.  Unfortunately, it’s also at odds with one of the activities we at Solid Ground value most – collaboration.  Collaboration means closing – not growing – the distance between us as individuals, organizations, and communities.  Today we extend our gratitude to all who’ve surmounted Covid’s obstacles to build connection and cohesion where and when they’ve been needed most.

We’ve had the good fortune to witness numerous examples of collaboration, large and small, among our clients in the past year.  Here are a few highlights we found especially inspiring:

Glass House Collective

Since 2012 Glass House Collective has been bringing life back to Glass Street in East Chattanooga, Tenn. using public art partnerships and other placemaking projects.  Today, the historic neighborhood is cleaner, safer, and more inviting than it has been in decades.  Earlier this year, GHC reached a major crossroads. After we helped the nonprofit consider several scenarios, the board chose to hand off the entire organization to the community in what has become a beautiful  demonstration of deep collaboration.  Since that decision, GHC has facilitated funding from local foundations to support the transition.  And its board has agreed stay on for a year to support community members as they decide where the reemerging spirit of Glass Street is going to take them next.

Habitat for Humanity Portland Region

The ultimate act of collaboration is merger.  That’s the step we helped two Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Portland, Ore. take in 2020.  The former Portland-Metro East and Willamette West affiliates are now Habitat for Humanity Portland Region. Each group offered the other what they were individually missing. In the case of Portland-Metro East, they had capacity but were severely constrained by lack of available lots in their service area.  Willamette West had access to more buildable property but lacked capacity to take advantage.  The merger has produced exactly what was intended: accelerated construction of new affordable homes in a region that has far less housing than it needs. 

Land Trust Community

The land trust community has many strengths, but the power of the network may be its greatest.  Over the last year, we’ve asked leaders from successful and exemplary land trusts to share their success and mistakes with others at the beginning of some of those same journeys.  When your plate is brimming, taking a moment to help others facing similar struggles is an extraordinary gift of empathy.  We sincerely appreciate the time and wisdom that several of our long-time clients have shared with others: Cheryl Fox (Summit Land Conservancy), Christine Johnson (Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast), Emma Ellsworth (Mount Grace Conservation Land Trust), Glenn Lamb (Columbia Land Trust), and Liz McLaurin (The Land Trust for Tennessee).  Each has shown that acting locally can have global impacts, and that leadership rarely ends at our service boundary.

National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation leads the way in connecting people to “America’s Best Idea” – our treasured national parks and monuments.  In their commitment to grow public support and belief in these special places, the Foundation demonstrates a commitment to partnership that defines the best aspects of collaboration.  Almost never a solo actor, NPF works as one of three-legs of an exceptional partnership with other park partners (such as Friends Groups) and the National Park Service.  Through the pandemic, which has stressed our national parks in unanticipated ways, NPF has never stopped asking the question: “How can we do more to help those working on the frontline of philanthropy for our national treasures?”