DIY Community Building: Leading with Authenticity, Heart, and Hustle | Heidi Demars | TEDxGrandForks



you so the do-it-yourself movement is huge right now from home-improvement to fashion one look at Pinterest and you'll see that this trend is here to stay DIY is defined as the method of building repairing or modifying something without the direct aid of experts or professionals but what if we took this concept and we applied it to our communities what would that look like I moved to Bismarck from far from Grand Forks five years ago and learned immediately that you will find what you're looking for I remember calling a friend in Denver and complaining that there wasn't curbside recycling they didn't have a food co-op I thought the art music scene was lacking a little bit and she said well Heidi if anybody's gonna change it it's gonna be you and that sounded exhausting to me right that sounded like a lot of work but what I realized is I was finding exactly what I was looking for instead of looking for the right with this new community I was looking for all of the wrong then something shifted I started dreaming a little bit I met some incredible people and started talking to them and found that they shared a similar vision I found my tribe and we got to work you see DIY isn't necessarily about doing it yourself but it's about finding those people who can offer some skills or expertise and help you along the way so I just had to hold the vision and Trust the process I'd always been pretty health conscious and loved supporting my local food co-op here in Grand Forks as much as possible I knew the past the positive impact that it could have on the locally farm economy the small farmers in the region and the health of my family as a whole so I set out with this awesome group of people from Bismarck to create a food co-op there had I ever started a food co-op before absolutely not had I ever started any business before no did I know how it was gonna go about working with these people to make it a reality no I really didn't but that didn't matter you see because I showed up I showed up to do the work and I found these incredible people to do it with me and that's all that mattered the first lesson I learned in this process was to trust yourself on December 1st 1955 of parks changed the course of history with one word no her action was spontaneous and not premeditated and she later remarked when I made that decision that day I knew I had the strength of my ancestors behind me that sentence gives me chills what if more of us looked at life that way with the powerful grounded conviction that we had the strength of our ancestors with us of all of the groundwork that has already been laid out before us and to trust that a path will unfold better yet what if we worked so diligently towards something better that would benefit future generations leaving things a little bit better than we found them trusting that process was a necessary step to making this vision a reality the second lesson I learned in this process was to do it yourself not alone of course but not waiting for a perfect set of circumstances to act and to do something to stop wishing and to start doing Jason Roberts is an IT consultant and bike advocate living in the historic neighborhood of Oak Cliff Dallas he wanted to take a more active approach to revitalizing his neighborhood and in 2010 Jason started the build a better block project he envisioned the transformation of a four-block Center in downtown Dallas using very little money zero permanent infrastructure and lots of creativity they created temporary awnings bike lanes cafe tables and made medians out of potted plants they recruited local artists and food vendors to sell their goods inside and outside of abandoned storefronts knowing that the project could easily be shut down due to city regulations they went rogue and threw caution to the wind he said we broke as many laws as possible we were ready to go to jail for this and no one you really questions you when you put on an orange construction vest I love it you see the beauty of the better block project was that it altered the perception of what people thought was actually possible in that community it showed them what could be changed through some creativity and determination with the food co-op we had a very limited marketing budget we needed to reach a lot of people in a very short period of time so we knew we had to be creative as you can see there that's one of our tomato bombs and it's incredible what you can accomplish with some pickle buckets some soil donated from a local farm and tomatoes donated from a local nursery we placed a sign within each tomato bomb that read hi I'm a tomato plant you may see some of my siblings around town we're here to spread the word about a local food co-op taking root in our community if you see me please water me care for me and watch me grow and when my tomatoes are ready enjoy them we place them strategically around town at local businesses popular restaurants outside of TV stations the governor's mansion in downtown where we had extensive foot traffic and suddenly the buzz had been created we started receiving calls from the local media membership started rolling in and people were posting pictures online of these tomato bombs that they had found outside the door of their doors but ultimately this was a test of community would people nurture this project like they would nurture these tomato plants because this was a community owned co-op right it didn't belong to me or a board of directors it was a cooperative own business that belonged to the members in the community in order for our work to truly be authentic we need to be ourselves I was in a visioning session once when a woman slid me a piece of paper and on it it said you could get funded for some of this community work with a website scroll underneath so I went to that website later that night and read in big bold letters selecting leaders with creative solutions to tough community problems and I immediately clicked away a leader I thought that wasn't me growing up you know a young girl in North Dakota a leader was some guy in a suit that wasn't me but as they thought about the hundreds of hours that had already been poured into this project I went back to that website the next day and applied for the two-year fellowship I got a letter about a week later saying they were gonna fly me to Minneapolis for a four-hour interview four hours that's crazy but I accepted because we must say yes to those things that scare us the most so there I was in a hotel room in downtown st. Paul leadership books spread across the bed because I was freaking out right Norris I got a read up on leadership but I realized that nothing in any of those books would prepare me for what I already had inside me right sometimes leadership is just showing up and doing the work in that moment I turned on the radio to relax a little bit and David Boies Just Dance came on right like he just he was speaking to me at that moment so I pushed those leadership books aside and I danced I chose to dance in that moment and not cram like a nerd for some tests that didn't even exist because I recognized it was already within me David Bowie as you know just died last month and he was always marching to the beat of his own drum he was called so many things but one thing he never was was sorry all right he was never apologetic for being himself and neither was I so I went into that interview the next day and was completely myself I chose to be me instead of somebody who I thought they might want me to be to me DIY community building means being grounded enough and who you are and what you care about so that your ideas can take fly it it's not about having all of the answers but finding those who can help you along the way and it's not waiting for a perfect set of circumstances to act it's about rolling up our sleeves and getting messy will you fail maybe you might fall flat on your face but what if you don't what if you surprise yourself and you experience a tremendous success that success that is the ammo for the next successful do-it-yourself project so let's work towards creating the kind of communities that we want to live in and be proud of let's say yes to those things that scare us a little bit so today I'd like to leave you the way I leave each one of my children's yoga classes you are enough everything you need is inside of you you are a bright light and the bright light me boughs to the bright light in you namaste thank you

10 thoughts on “DIY Community Building: Leading with Authenticity, Heart, and Hustle | Heidi Demars | TEDxGrandForks

  1. Ignorance alert: problematic use of word "tribe."

    Also: seconding comment about Rosa Park's action as being planned – because it was.

  2. Finding your tribe is not always so cut and dry, these people always skirt around this part-what if you are in a location where other people with a similar vision are simply not there?

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