Valley Vision is Like a Pair of Skorts
According to Wikipedia, the one and only source for peer-reviewed, reliably-sourced information, a skort “is generally a pair of shorts with a fabric panel resembling a skirt covering the front, although some may be skirts with a pair of integral shorts hidden underneath. The term “skort” (a portmanteau of skirt and shorts) is used idiomatically in some regions” (who knew). “While some garments sold as culottes resemble short trousers, to be a skort they need to look like skirts. Skorts were developed to provide more freedom to do activities such as sports, gardening, cleaning, or bike riding, and give the appearance of a skirt.”
I am sure you are wondering where the hell I am going with this. I am too. Because I really wanted to go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole about the history of culottes, but in all seriousness, I think Valley Vision is a lot like a skort. I could stop here, feeling pretty secure in knowing that you too knew enough to conquer the world, but I will continue…to blow your mind.
A lot of people don’t know what we do here. We develop the plans, and do the research that allows others to have the freedom to ride a bike in a skirt. We do the work that needs to get done to ensure that systems are in place so that others can have the freedom to provide direct services to those in need. We create pathways and relationships, we provide platforms for collaboration, make connections, and build partnerships, and we do it all in a messy tangled mix of ideas about who others think we ought to be.
We laugh a lot here. Some of us could use a day or two in etiquette school, some of us are trenchant, some of us quiet and observant, some of us frenetic, some organized, some not so much. It’s a mish mash of creative and linear thinkers with big ideas and even bigger hearts.
Nothing is simple. In order to provide laptops for under-resourced classrooms, there are a million touch points along the way that need research; there is hands-on support and a certain finesse required to ensure there are multiple partners who can provide guidance and receive new technologies, that pedagogy is inclusive of digital citizenry, and that the program is sustainable. It is our job to know our communities, and to educate and support them in a way that is culturally competent, and that all involved feel empowered to keep going. We then have to ensure that systems and programs continue to evolve and improve over time. I find this to be true for all of the work we do here.
With that previous amazing explanation of VV work, here is where I say my farewell. My next stop is Wellspring Women’s Center in Oak Park as Development Director. I will take with me a sense of pride and ownership over my community that I would never have had, had I not worked here at Valley Vision. I will take with me a knowledge of process, of building relationships that are authentic, of not only listening to people, but hearing them, and of questioning the norm because the norm doesn’t work for everyone. It has never worked for me. I will take with me the knowledge that things don’t just happen. There are people sitting at a desk somewhere writing a grant or doing research so that you and I can make incremental changes to an incredibly difficult and ever-transforming old way of doing things. It takes a village. Everything is connected. Think outside the box. Move the needle. Through all the clichés, and jargon, two facts remain: this work is hard and change is never simple.
I’m off to the races, I’m taking my skort, and I am making my way like so many have done before me and like so many will after me. Thank you to my colleagues, to my partners, to my mentors, to my friends, and to this incredible organization. This has been a wonderfully enriching experience and I will be so sad to leave, but can go with the knowledge that there are some bad ass shorts under my skirt.
Jodi Mulligan-Pfile has been a Valley Vision employee for over three years, leading and contributing to projects as diverse as the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium, School2Home Neighborhood Transformation, Village Square Sacramento, and the 2013 Community Health Needs Assessments.