We are excited to welcome two new members to the Community Builders team, Alison Cotey-Bourquin and Bud Tymczyszyn. In the time that we have been getting to know Bud and Alison, we became quickly impressed by their hard working ethic, determination, and genuine love for communities and community building. To help you get to know them, we asked them a few questions. In our interview, we asked them to elaborate a little more on their background, explain why they chose to work with us, and what outcomes are possible with positive community development. Our interviews follow, edited for brevity.
Community Builders: Hey Alison, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Alison Bourquin: Hi. Well my name is Alison, I was raised in Chicago but 'grew up' in the woods of northern Wisconsin where I learned to love the outdoors. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a BLA, I moved to Colorado and worked in the private sector with large and small communities then attended the University of Colorado in Denver for my master’s degree in Urban Design. Following grad school, I moved to South Lake Tahoe, California where I worked for Design Workshop. There, I was a part a broad range of business from office manager, business development, and project manager working out in the field, guiding projects and engaging with public outreach. We life in the mountains including skiing, backpacking, camping and mountain biking. Colorado has always been close to my heart and Glenwood Springs will be a great place for my family to call home.
CB: Why did you end up choosing to apply with Community Builders?
AB: I felt that the mission of Community Builders overlapped many of my own beliefs as a planner and landscape architect. I am excited to work with people who are engaged in good thought and planning. Bringing in great thinking to make places better to live. Working in the private sector for 10+ years, I have learned that planners are public servants, and I am thrilled to focus on public facilitation and working with people for the betterment of a community. There are several layers of overlap from working in the public and private sectors of planning and community development. Given the opportunity to work with a nonprofit like Community Builders, I know that we can reach much more communities to help drive their own goals forward.
CB: How can community developments lead to better economic outcomes?
AB: That’s a good question. I always thought of it as, good community development aligns the goals of each community. Those goals should line up with community values to begin to make places that we love. A community with its goals aligned has a shared vision and that shared vision can be easily translated into a community’s economic goals or aspirations. I am excited to share my ideas and skills with people to help them realize their own potential and inspire what COULD BE.
CB: Can you explain community development in a few sentences to someone who may not have any clue what it means?
AB: Community development is all about creating spaces and places where our daily interactions take place. Creating positive spaces for people and communities. It is our social responsibility to help facilitate a positive change with community development. As planners, our job is to think ahead and we want to inspire change and help communities to become better versions of themselves.
Community Builders: Hey Bud, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Bud Tymczyszyn: Hello. My name is Bud and I am originally from a small town in California named Lake Arrowhead. I grew up running around the mountains skiing, hiking, and best of all biking. Moving to San Diego to attend school was a great experience for me. Studying Sociology and Anthropology, I was given a good sense of many of the social problems that our communities face. Next, I knew that I needed the tools to help combat these problems. While working in Salt Lake City, being a housing case worker and a placement specialist, I had learned that it may also help to earn a planning degree to add more tools to my community building tool kit. As a bike commuter, Glenwood Springs seemed like a perfect place to move to. My love of biking has driven me to encourage more communities to plan “with” the biking community to make places more special.
CB: Why did you choose to apply with Community Builders?
BT: The range of opportunities that Community Builders provides their personnel and communities was something that I really haven’t found anywhere else. The range of projects to help communities change in the best way they deem fit, it was right down my alley. Being in an environment with people who are engaged in what they do is one of the reasons I went into social work and planning in the first place—to get tools to solve problems. Being from a small town, I have first-hand experience of problems that many places experience. When I travel through towns, I tend to slow down in ones with a vibrant sense of community. It makes me way to stay longer (and possibly spend more money).
CB: How can community development lead to positive economic outcomes?
BT: Community development is a system that involves lots of complex tools and methods to solve problems. But, if your tools are used effectively, you can create fun places. People are drawn to places that are awesome. Having a sense of ownership by the local population is vital to people having their sense of place. Once locals have ownership of their town and the direction that it may be headed, that is when people from the outside are drawn to visit and check out why “somewhere” is awesome. My general rule of thumb is that places that are good to spend time in are also good places to spend dollars. You seem to find more of those places when communities work together for the betterment of everyone.
CB: Time for a harder question. Can you explain what “community development” means to someone who may not have any background on it?
BT: Communities and their economies are constantly changing. If people don’t have control over change, their community won’t change the way that they want it to.
CB: Ok, last question. Why is Community Builders important?
BT: That’s a great question. Communities are changing. Without the right tools, they will get left behind. Change will happen and it may not be what they want. It is hard to access good tools and Community Builders is an organization that can provide some with all of their programs. People who are able to utilize what we have to offer can really benefit.
Editors Note: We are grateful to Patrick Skogen, Communications Intern, for taking the lead on this blog, conducting interviews and copywriting. Thanks Patrick!