“We put our emphasis on local communities solving and addressing the challenges themselves built on their own resources, their own gifts, and their own talents. That’s what we call a cultural approach to doing development. It means celebrating, emphasizing, and rehearsing values and building community to get that kind of work done.”
September 24, 2014
I’m not sure when I first met Terry Bergdall. I heard about him and his wife Pam from Kitty Cole, who I hired in 1984 as CANDO’s membership staff. Kitty and another colleague, Jim Troxel, from the Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] were doing strategic planning for City delegate agencies during Mayor Harold Washington’s administration. Little did I know then that 30 years later with Jim and Kitty’s encouragement, I would be applying to replace Terry as ICA’s CEO.
This past week was Terry’s last as an ICA staff. He’s off on a self-directed sabbatical, although I’ve been encouraging him to write his reflections on facilitating community development for decades around the globe. Numerous testimonials came in bearing witness to the man and his contributions to a just and equitable society in harmony with planet earth.
“There is something very basic, powerful and healing about that concept that reflects your stance and approach towards communities, organizations and individuals. Community can be seen as trouble or treasure (a problem to be solved or a gift to be opened). You are about recognizing the gifts as a starting place for growth and change.”
Cheryl Hood Addington, now living in Washington state, offered the following tribute:
“Terry has been a constant symbol and tireless exemplar for me of what it means to be in Service on Behalf of All. For years, we operated out of the symbol of the Wedgeblade, and of what it means to be out in front of history leading the charge. I always think of Terry when I see that symbol. It was inevitable in my mind that Terry would eventually play the role he has played for the past 6 years with the ICA. It was also inevitable that his participation would be so pivotal and successful.”
Jim Troxel has known Terry nearly 50 years since Terry’s high school days in Enid, OK, where he first listened to his beloved St. Louis Cardinals on KMOX radio.
“From the Great Plains to the Westside inner city of Chicago on to its Northwest Suburbs, from the continent of Asia and then on to two decades in Africa, Terry pioneered in the adaptation of group facilitation methods in multiple cultural settings. Passionate, intense, opinionated and determined, Terry never let an opportunity to promote and demonstrate social justice pass him by. He personified the old Chinese adage that ‘Action Removes the Doubt that Theory Cannot Solve.’”
I have written of my community development career as a vocation. Terry has certainly impacted many while living his vocation to the fullest. As I told him a few times during our transition, my regret is not having more time to work with him. Hopefully, we will do so in the future. Until then Terry: Ave Atque Vale — Hail and Farewell.
Hail and Farewell (a translation of ave atque vale) is a traditional military event whereby those coming to and departing from an organization are celebrated. This may coincide with a change in command or be prompted by any momentous organizational change. It is a time to honor those who have departed the unit and thank them for their service. At the same time it is a welcome to those who are joining and introduces them to the special history and traditions of their new organization. It supports a sense of continuity through change.
This week’s U2Cando lyrics come from Pam Bergdall with several layers of relevancy from moving on to climate change.
Sand blowing I just can’t breathe in this air
Thought it would soon be clear and fair
But dust storms played hell with land and folks as well
Got to be moving somewhere
Hate to leave the old ranch so bare
But I got to be movin somewhere
So get along doggies we’re moving off of this range
Never thought as how I’d make the change
But the blue skies have failed so we’re on our last trail
Underneath these dusty skies
This ain’t tears in my eyes
Just sand from these dusty skies
Recorded by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
Written by Cindy Walker