I have decided to post my weekly progress on my colloquium project towards an MA in Servant Leadership in this forum in order to get community feedback.  I want to this project to bubble from the grassroots as much as possible, and hope people of interest will weigh in for the benefit of the ReNEW Neighborhood Project.  At this point I am looking for help in defining a clear research question and for peer-reviewed articles from the servant leadership literature that will help me to further clarify my research question in regards to this topic.  I welcome suggestions for good research questions and scholarly articles.

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Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda Acklin, executive director of Habitat for Humanity and the ReNEW neighborhood housing project, at the Servant Leadership Conversation hosted by Viterbo University.  Through our conversations it was clear the ReNEW project paralleled the housing work I had coordinated previously as an Americorps VISTA.  We met a week later to brainstorm, and determined my colloquium project could be of service to ReNEW.  The program is currently in a holding pattern because of lack of funding and human resources to coordinate.  To prevent this program from fading away, it must reach its next step of garnering grant funding and financial backing from the community.

My focus would be to harvest servant leader stories from the residents of the ReNEW neighborhoods as my colloquium project.  The greater La Crosse community stigmatizes these neighborhoods as harboring drug dealers, prostitutes, and people from out-of-state here to take advantage of the welfare system; thus demolition and redevelopment are often seen as the best solutions for these areas, i.e. gentrification.  From my experience of living in a stigmatized neighborhood in Minnesota, I understand there are more residents and families who have contributed positively for the good of the greater community, however their stories are not told in the media, only the criminal behaviors of the few.  As a student of servant leadership I understand we are all called to be servant leaders, even those who have no voice due to various types of societal oppression and judgment.  A reaping of these servant leader stories would demonstrate the value these neighborhoods have for the La Crosse community, and could be used to generate both financial and human support for the ReNEW efforts.

I would gather these servant leader stories through video recorded one-on-one interviews that would be woven together in a narrated film documentary format.  Clips from the documentary along with commentary would be used for the public colloquium presentation, while the documentary as a whole could be used by ReNEW in public relations and grant writing efforts.

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