Grinnellians #GrinnTogether - Forming New Connections, Coalition Building and Creating Community

September 14, 2021

The College and town of Grinnell has endured and persevered through many challenges over the past year. Some of these have been shared experiences, while others have been very personal. When the pandemic began in March 2020, Grinnell College sent students home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and it wasn’t until the fall of 2021 that students, faculty, and staff were allowed back on campus in full capacity. While many other colleges and communities struggled with the impact of the pandemic, as well as the social divisions, Grinnell was also faced a powerful derecho that wreaked havoc across the town, leaving many community members without power for a week or longer. 

While these concurrent crises took an economic, social, and physical toll on the town of Grinnell, it also sparked an outpouring of camaraderie and support among Grinnellians. Monica Chavez-Silva, department head of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research, and vice president of Community Engagement and Strategic Planning, said, “It was so impressive to see everyone pitching in to help each other in so many different ways. To me, it’s a reminder of what we’re capable of when we come together with a spirit of generosity.” 

Recognizing the many challenges of the past year and looking toward fall with hope and optimism, a coalition of community businesses and organizations partnered on a new initiative — #GrinnTogether.   

“This campaign is about offering some connection, support, and concrete ways of coming back together after so much separation. Not necessarily coming back together in the same way we were before, but forming new connections, coalition building, and creating community in a way that’s meaningful and personal,” added Chavez-Silva. 

As a kickoff event for the #GrinnTogether campaign, community members put together giftbags to welcome Grinnell College students back to campus. 

Sarah Smith, director of outreach programs and events in the office of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research, shared, “I loved seeing the community come together to welcome Grinnell College students and their families to the community. It was awesome to have a #GrinnTogether themed welcome gift for them to remind them that together we are stronger. #GrinnTogegther reminds me that I am not alone in this pandemic marathon, it reminds me that as a community we can get through this together and continue to focus on helping each other.” 

Barb Baker, Grinnell Mutual director of advertising and community relations, shared, “Grinnell Mutual is always eager to show our support for the Grinnell-area community. The GrinnTogether initiative is a perfect way to bring our local citizens together in an uplifting way, especially after the many challenges we’ve recently experienced. This is a fun-spirited campaign that we hope will spread some camaraderie across the various current demographics and positively unite Grinnellians again.” 

#GrinnTogether Events and Visitor Guide 

Individuals are encouraged to visit for a full list of community activities and events happening on campus as well as directories and other community resources. Grinnell College has also provided an app platform for offering a GrinnTogether Visitor Guide that can be downloaded here. As Grinnellians, friends, and visitors embark on #GrinnTogether activities, they are encouraged to post photos to social media with #GrinnTogether and spread the positivity among friends and followers! 

“Now that we have information on how to gather more safely, it is great to see how many events and programs are starting back up,” said Smith “It is important that people know the opportunities that are available to them and that using the app will help them to stay organized and in the know as to what is going in the community,” add Smith.  

Grinntogether graphic

Learn more about the Office of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research 

The Office of Community Partnerships, Planning, and Research works toward the common good by serving as a collaborative thought partner with college and community change-makers. Bringing different skills and expertise to the table, staff consults on research, planning, and partnerships with those working to improve the lives of all Grinnellians. Since 2015, the office formerly known as the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement, has served as co-convener of the Grinnell Education Partnership by facilitating alignment towards common goals and coordinating action across groups and organizations. 

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