Holly House: Dream Big

Oct 17, 2018 | News

by Linda Flanagan Freeburg, chair

We on the Holly House Development Task Force 2018 are hard at work on the responsibilities assigned to us and we’re writing to give you an update on our progress. We are the latest in a long line of Holly House Task Forces with a strong legacy of work on behalf of East Shore; we have greatly benefited from the work product and efforts of those who came before us.

The current task force members are

  • Linda Flanagan Freeburg (Chair)
  • Laurie Adams (Deputy Chair)
  • Carrie Bowman
  • Roger Greene
  • Trevor Hall
  • Jim Shuman
  • Sue Yates
  • Rev. Dr. Stephen H. Furrer (Staff Representative)
  • Dave Baumgart (Board Liaison)
  • Mark Norelius (Right Relations Liaison)

We also have a team of professional liaisons who advise us in their areas of expertise:

  • Abbie Birmingham
  • Janet Garrow
  • Craig Nelsen
  • Bob Weiss
  • Lee Winstrom

These task force members are smart, capable, caring folks who are working extremely hard on your behalf. The quality of their work, the depth of their dedication, their commitment to our UU principles, and the flashes of brilliance take my breath away. I’m honored to work with every one of them.

Once our team was formed, we began with an update to the Task Force Charter, written and then vetted by all task force members and reviewed by 13 people before it went to the Board for approval. This Charter drives our work. You can read it on our website here. The Task Force meets the first Monday each month at 4:30 in the Education Building, in the library. Our meetings are open to all members of the congregation.

To protect the congregation and support fairness in this significant work, we used our team’s legal expertise to create a conflict of interest statement that was also reviewed by the Board. Every task force member has signed it.

We are committed to transparency and are working to gather input from you and provide information to you in a variety of ways. To share information, give updates, review our activities, and get guidance, we attended Board meetings and the Board Pretreat this fall, and we will be presenting at the Board Retreat later this month. Dave Baumgart, our Board Liaison, reports on our work at every Board meeting. We occasionally submit materials and plans for Board review, and meet one-on-one with individual Board members, especially Tom Doe, our Board president.

We are also sharing information with the congregation in a variety of ways: Beacon articles, weekly email blasts, Facebook posts, updates on the ESUC website, inserts in the Church Bulletin (with the Order of Service), occasional pulpit announcements, and word-of-mouth conversations. Nicole’s professional expertise is a huge benefit here: she has been available, responsive and very helpful to us in this important communications work. We are also inviting all members of the congregation to “dream big” through conversations about our UU values and ways that we can live them fully. Every task force member is available to talk to any congregant about our work, and we do this… often. We hope you’ll attend services on October 21st when Rev. Stephen will be talking about the history of Holly House.

Due to our workload and our need to leverage the skills of Task Force members, we conduct a lot of business in teams that are subsets of the Task Force. We have a team reviewing our existing affordable housing proposals, conducting outreach, and working with agencies; a team meeting with commercial real estate brokers for a potential listing of our property and evaluating them relative to our needs; a team (Dream Big, mentioned above) planning and hosting gatherings to engage the congregation about how we might invest or spend the proceeds of the property sale; and a team working to update the congregation and the Board on our work. These teams talk and meet frequently and the emails are flying. Many of us do task force work daily–we are on it!

Have you heard about our Dream Big initiative? In previous task force town halls and since then, the congregation expressed a strong desire to talk with each other about how the proceeds of the sale might be spent or invested. In response, we designed a process to engage the congregation in that discussion. Dream Big is about imagining how we can use our assets and our treasure in alignment with our mission and UU principles to strengthen our congregation, advance social justice, and support the community in which we reside. We started with Lay Leaders to ask them to think about the possibilities and engage their teams. We wanted to go to the center of the ministries and activities that drive our congregation to light sparks that would energize the teams.
Now we are inviting the entire congregation to participate in building on those dreams by sharing their own ideas. The next facilitated conversations are centered around themes. We hope you’ll choose the one (or more!) conversation of greatest interest to you and share with your fellow congregants about the possibilities you envision. Though the conversations are organized around a theme, you can bring any dream to any of the conversations.

Our first Dream Big Conversation took place Sunday, October 7th. It was a robust gathering during which about 25 members talked about expanding the Music Program to strengthen our congregation. Other conversations coming up include:

  • Tuesday, Oct 16, 7:30-9:00pm / Taking Care of and Improving Our East Shore Home / in the Sanctuary
    This conversation will be led by the Facilities/Grounds Teams. These teams are responsible for all major repairs and improvements on the buildings and grounds. Please come with your ideas about how we might invest in our facilities and grounds to improve them and/or meet our changing needs.
  • Sunday, Oct 21, 12:15-1:45pm / Potpourri / in the Sanctuary
    Taking place after the service focused on Holly House History, this conversation will explore a wide variety of themes.
  • Tuesday, Oct 23, 7:00-8:30pm / Campus Master Plan: Land and Building Assets / in the Sanctuary
    This conversation will explore a longer-term vision of our campus.
  • Saturday, Oct 27, 10:00am-12pm / Peace, Justice and the Interdependent Web / in the North Room
  • Sunday, Oct 28, 12:15-1:45 / Learning and Spiritual Growth / in Spring Hall
    This conversation will explore ways we can support and expand spiritual growth for East Shore families, children, youth, and adults.
  • Wednesday, November 14, 7:00-8:30pm / Diversity and Inclusion / in Spring Hall
    This conversation will explore ways we can increase education and outreach aimed at greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at ESUC and in our community.

Please join us to DREAM BIG about our future! Contact a Task Force member if you would rather send a dream in writing. If you aren’t able to attend, you can send your dreams to the Task Force at [email protected].

The affordable housing team is also hard at work. Extensive vetting of proposals was done by our predecessors. We are reviewing that process, talking with those who submitted bids, giving agencies the chance to submit updates, identifying the viable proposals, and doing other outreach to the affordable housing industry.

The broker team has cast a wide net to find an experienced and skilled real estate broker capable of effectively marketing our property to the developer community and guiding us through a process to review the offers. We are meeting with referrals in person, walking the property with each of them, soliciting proposals from them to be our agent and will check their references. As you might expect, this work involves sharing information about the site and answering questions about who we are, about our process, and about what we need. We have not yet selected a broker.

Rev Steve has an aptitude and passion for history. He is researching the history of the Holly House property at East Shore. You’ll learn more about this from him soon.

We work with a representative of the Right Relations Task Force to help us communicate honestly, respectfully, and directly with each other and the congregation. I can already see the positive impact of a Right Relations framework on our communication and activities. We appreciate the support.

We are working with experts in project management on a plan for the rest of our work. We want to be sure we do everything necessary to prepare the congregation for a vote. In light of the significant time and effort required to inform the congregation and prepare for a congregational meeting, we have asked the Board and they have agreed to move the vote to the first quarter of 2019.

As we move further into autumn, we will be offering information-sharing activities, and facilitating respectful dialogues about what we are learning that we hope will help you think through the choices and prepare for the vote. The topics under discussion are: Affordable Housing 101, Outcomes of the Dream Big Conversations, ESUC Future Growth and Sustainability, and Preview of the Voters Pamphlet. If there are specific areas of knowledge related to our work that you want to learn about before the vote, please tell us.

In future communications, we will continue to update you about our progress. Check our ESUC Facebook page, our website, here in the Beacon, email blasts and the Order of Service Church Bulletin for news. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions. We will be wearing salmon-colored HHDTF Dream Big buttons on Sundays to help you find us.

We are very pleased with the level of interest from the Board and from the congregation in our work. Thank you, thank you for your support, your feedback, and your ideas. This is an exciting time for East Shore and we fully understand the significant responsibility you have given us. Your engagement makes all the difference. Together, we hope to strengthen our community, honor our principles, and learn to thrive.