Connect the Dots: A Year in Review - Connect The Dots Insights
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Connect the Dots: A Year in Review


What an exciting year this has been – this year feels like so many years in one. It has been at once one of the most challenging years and the most rewarding

It seems like just yesterday that we were trialing coworking spaces in January – and now we have a new home: our own office and shared spaces, right in Center City Philadelphia. We’ve needed the room too! Connect the Dots has expanded faster than I ever expected: from a Philly HQ of just two…to 10 team members including crazy-talented full-time staff, incredible project assistants, and a passionate community-based field team. Every day, I am impressed by and grateful for our team – we have such a diversity of talents, backgrounds, cultures, and more. We consistently support and challenge each other to co-create inclusive, robust, creative outreach and engagement processes. With the growth of our team has come exciting new challenges; we’ve been working together to build a work culture and processes that allow each person to sustainably contribute their expertise and to grow while being there for each other, our collaborators, and the communities in which we work. 

As our team has grown, so has our reach and the impact we can make. We’re now active along the whole Northeast coast and being brought onto teams even beyond that. We’re applying our outreach and engagement expertise to transportation of all kinds, placemaking, and community development – and expanding to new sectors and topics such as university master-planning, sustainability, and airports. We have helped to ensure community insights are incorporated in many large-scale projects that will have impact on generations to come: from the upcoming new SEPTA bus network to the future of the former police headquarters building (the Roundhouse) to the study of a rapid transit corridor in Maine. And of course, we could not have done any of this without our amazing partners – who steadily support our mission, enable us to reimagine traditional engagement, and understand the value that authentic, inclusive engagement can bring (thank you!).  It’s been really affirming to see more and more decision-making entities and collaborators prioritize people – especially marginalized voices – in their planning processes – and to be in the position to help enable that change.

Our team worked really hard building new relationships, rebuilding trust in areas where it had been lost, and connecting with communities all across the Philadelphia region and beyond. Across this, we’ve been reflecting deeply on our learnings here: how we can strengthen communities and build trust – within and outside of the project cycle. We have some big ideas, and we’re excited to continue to work alongside others to push the engagement field forward. 

Most importantly: Thank you to every single person that has connected with Connect the Dots along the way…and huge thank you to the resilient, innovative, and diligent team that inspires me every day: Rosanne, Sylvia, Lily, Robby, Michael, Sophia, Keyana, Cheryl and more  – thank you, thank you, thank you.

Watch out 2023! We’re just getting started…

Thank you,

Marisa Denker

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