Joan Holliday

Joan Holliday

“We do not learn from experience – we learn from reflecting on experience." John Dewey, American philosopher and psychologist

The Story of Kennett: Shaping our Future One Child at a Time came out in March 2017 and was updated in August 2017. It consists of over 55 interviews of key leaders and individuals, along with the authors’ Joan Holliday and Bob George’s observations. One of the chapters, “Path Forward” reflected on the key learnings that Joan and Bob gained through their experience of writing the book. The following excerpt certainly is relevant to the times and more importantly celebrates how Kennett has developed opportunities to build community relationships.

“Facebook and Snapchat can’t take the place of real personal relationships. This recommendation, coming from two tip-of -the spear Baby Boomers (Joan and Bob are the oldest baby boomers), may sound a little dodgy, but we believe we need venues to meet and discuss the changes we want to make. We need to build trust to build the village that helps raise a child.

Interactions like Bridging the Community meetings, board meetings, volunteering at the food cupboard or teaching a course at After-The-Bell are necessary to build the infrastructure of knowledgeable and effective leaders and workers in a healthy Kennett community. In Bob George’s career at DuPont, he watched it become a global company where a team that did anything substantial needed representation from Asia, Europe and, later, South America. These virtual teams couldn’t be co-located because there wasn’t time or money. But, putting them together in an actual physical location was what one Hewlett Packard executive called the closest thing to “pixie dust” to getting a team to work well and accomplish their goals on time. It was always essential that the members knew each other and had a good feel for their team members’ capabilities and mind set. There is no better way to get to know each other than face-to-face meetings. Building knowledge and trust within the team was crucial to its success. The same is true about today’s community. Most rich people don’t know any poor people and vice versa. We need processes and systems to break down these barriers.

To create a healthy community and break down barriers, Joan Holliday, as a public health nurse, knows the importance of developing relationships. The open forum of Bridging the Community meetings (started over 20 years ago) held on a bi-monthly basis has become a primary relationship building process. Any community member can attend and the resulting “bridges” that have been made are helping create pathways from down town to up town.

The Kennett Inter-generational Coffee Klatch that meets every Thursday at Liberty Place from 10:30am to 11:30am demonstrates the joy of engaging in relationships. This community process, open to all ages, started four years ago and has hit a sweet spot. It continues to be an attraction for sharing stories, news, opinions and so much more. People just drop in and one never knows where the conversation is going to go. Several other open groups have grown out of these gatherings---the Monday morning knitting club and the “Soul Sisters” dialogue group that meets from 9:30am to 10:30am on Thursdays at Liberty Place. Again, any community member is welcome!

The Market at Liberty Place, Talulas Table, Philters, and Sunrise Cafe have also become community spaces to hold meetings; connect with others or just to be in the presence of “real” people while working virtually on-line.

It is not that social media doesn’t have a place in building a healthy community. Technology is invaluable for efficient communication. How did we ever get anything done without email, the cloud and cell phones? And yes, a meeting on Skype works with a busy team; technology is necessary but not sufficient.
As we reflect on the interviews for the many Kennett community efforts, one can see that a Facebook page is no substitute for a working group with the right skills and knowledge of each other or the need to relate to one’s neighbor in the broader community. On the bright side, Kennett seems to have a growing number of arenas to bring people together to commune, address issues, build teams and develop and execute plans that make “Kennett Square every day a better place to grow up in and grow old in.” And, as we see it, the healthy future for our kids and families depends on caring about relationships and keeping technology in service of them.

Books may be purchased on Amazon and at the Mushroom Cap or Resale Book Shoppe in Kennett. To contact Joan Holliday email:

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