Heart & Soul


An aerial view of downtown Carlisle with the Dickinson campus in the foreground. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Greater Carlisle Project receives $50,000 grant for community storytelling project 

The Greater Carlisle Project (GCP), of which Dickinson is a founding member, has received a one-year $50,000 civic-engagement grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) and a $10,000 mini-grant from the South Mountain Partnership to implement the Greater Carlisle Heart & Soul Project—a resident-driven approach to community planning and development. The Cumberland County Historical Society will serve as the fiscal sponsor for the project. 

The Greater Carlisle community joins three other Pennsylvania communities that will receive a PHC civic-engagement grant, which supports humanities-focused approaches to community development throughout the Commonwealth. The other communities are Meadville, Williamsport and the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

“The grant gives residents from all the boroughs and townships of Greater Carlisle the opportunity to share stories in creative ways that reveal the heart and soul of our community—what the community values and what we want for the future,” says Neil Leary, executive director of Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education (CSE) and co-chair of the GCP steering committee. “The answers will help us develop a roadmap for creating changes that respond to the diverse needs and hopes of the people who live here.”

With this grant, the Greater Carlisle Heart & Soul Project aims to strengthen the community as a great place to live, work, learn, play and visit. Following the Heart & Soul framework, members of the Greater Carlisle Project—with the leadership of a new project director and support from Dickinson—will engage people from all segments of the community in telling, listening to and sharing stories about the community. The team will recognize and keep in mind that community members will answer these questions in diverse ways and that hard work and an open and inclusive process is necessary to find common ground for actions that benefit all.

The Community Heart & Soul method is a proven, trademarked process that empowers people to shape the future of their communities by creating a shared sense of belonging; improves local decision-making; and ultimately strengthens social, cultural and economic vibrancy.

“We believe the humanities can inspire people to come together and make a difference in their communities,” says Laurie Zierer, PHC’s executive director. “With storytelling at the heart of planning and development, local values and voices become the foundation for building communities that are connected, innovative, competitive and strong.”

Founded in 2013 with leadership and administrative support from Dickinson, the GCP is an unincorporated nonprofit association of people, organizations, faith groups, schools, businesses and local governments working together to enhance the long-term social, economic and environmental sustainability of the communities of the Greater Carlisle area including the communities of Carlisle, Dickinson, Middlesex, Mount Holly Springs, Newville, North Middleton, South Middleton and West Pennsboro.

The GCP is currently hiring a project director to implement this community storytelling project. Visit the GCP website to become a member of the GCP, to find out how to tell your story or to explore the extensive network of partnerships working together to make this happen.

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Published January 11, 2016