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Celebrate in Style

Community Question:

“Our community is going to have reason to celebrate over the next year. We have met some major goals. And one of our goals is to celebrate. What actions can we take to celebrate in style? What kinds of events and activities would be meaningful?”



Ready to Raise Response:


Celebrations confirm a sense of belonging. A birthday party says – you made it this far – congratulations! Surrounded by friends and family – a birthday party confirms a place in the world and that place is honoured by others, touches others and is shaped by others. Celebrating in an early years development context shares a few of these qualities. It is a chance to say – look what we have done so far! It also connects those that have contributed with each other, validating a sense of interconnectedness and collective strength. Nurturing that sense of belonging is like the icing on the cake (another intended pun) that propels participants as a group towards collective relevance.

(excerpt from Smyth & Dewar, Raising the Village, 2009, pg 171)


What does a celebration look like?  It certainly doesn’t have to include balloons, cake and special food (although who doesn’t appreciate food)!  

Check out this list of 6 actionable ideas;

  1. Take time to reflect over the year and share/record the accomplishments from different perspectives. One of the ways to do this is look at your year in a timeline format and have each person write their name on the timeline related to the activities that they were involved in. Allow participants to share what they are most proud of from an individual and collective perspective.

  2. Write or request a newspaper article that talks about your milestones and what you are celebrating. Be sure to promote the “working together” actions you took as a collective and the players (both the people and the organizations) involved.

  3. Honour the growth of the collaborative by asking people to write down the lessons learned from the successes and “mistakes” along the way. Do this visually on a graffitti wall or by bringing together pieces of paper. In this way, you celebrate both the successes and the growth along the way!

  4. Format your celebration meeting like a  “show and tell” – challenge people to prepare and present the various activities, actions and projects in a tangible way (e.g. slideshow, photographs, mementos, documentation board, etc). Post samples to your website and social media sites.

  5. Say thank you, together. Expressing gratitude for the journey to reach your accomplishments is a celebration in of itself. Hold a card crafting and writing party to thank specific people and organizations for their contributions. This sustains relationships and highlights achievements all at once!

  6. Hold a special event that celebrates the past work but also feeds the passion further and keeps the momentum going. For example, think about the accomplishments that have captured people’s attention and consider ways that you can continue to foster the engagement in that area? What continued professional development opportunity could you offer at the celebration event to take things to the next level?

No matter what celebration activity you choose, remember that your celebration isn’t a one time thing. Continue to finds ways to celebrate ongoing (in small and big ways). Be sure to think about how you will balance celebrating individuals, organizations and the collaborative! The point to celebrating is to enhance connections and harness the momentum of the group. Brian Stanfield (2002) wrote, “honouring the group requires the ability to recognize the wonder of life and the essential greatness of each human being.”

Want more?

Need more details and depth on how to make a meeting like this happen? 

Our goal is to build the capacity of Community Builders to design and lead group processes with impact. Coalition and committee work can an incredible asset – it is in these meetings that relationships take shape, social change becomes a focal point. We believe that you can turn a meeting into a movement.

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