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A Note From Our New Executive Director

It is with honor and humility that I greet you as Pomegranate Center’s first Executive Director since Milenko founded the organization 30 years ago. I am well aware that I have big shoes to fill and that many of you are wondering how anyone could possibly replace Milenko.

Here’s the good news: we don’t need to replace Milenko. And this is not because he will still be involved with Pomegranate through training, mentorship, and our new Institute for Everyday Democracy. But it is because the nature of our organization is changing and we are entering an exciting new phase of work requiring a new type of leadership.

I invite you to think of the first 30 years of Pomegranate Center as a kind of research and development. For over three decades, we’ve been exploring and testing principles of collaboration, trying to crack the code on how to leverage placemaking and engagement to jumpstart civic participation. It’s only been in the past few years that we’ve coalesced around a replicable modela combination of training and engagementthat we know makes broader, deeper, and more meaningful change.

Pomegranate’s next 30 years, then, is not about research and development, but about bringing our model to as many communities as possible. Spreading our impact necessitates that we take the vision of our founder, process it through what we’ve learned on the ground, and approach our new work in a more strategic way.

Over the past year we have been assembling a team, myself included, with the new skill set required to succeed on this different type of journey. Collectively we have been mapping out our vision, and I would like to share with you what we are going to do. In short, our plan is to take Milenko’s legacy and run with it. We will do this in four ways:

  1. We will replicate our successful partnerships in Walla Walla and San Diego, where we have combined our training and placemaking work over multiple years to transfer our collaborative capacity to new communities. Our goal is two new partnerships a year, starting in the Puget Sound, and then expanding up and down the West Coast and beyond.
  2. We will expand our menu of training and mentoring options with a mission to spread our model to as many places as possible, especially governmental agencies. We will create continuing education resources for people to share best practices and stay “fresh” and connected in their collaborative practice, including annual events, online forums, and more.
  3. Through the Institute for Everyday Democracy we will elevate our contribution to the national dialogue about our democracy, social trust, and how we come together for collective decisions. The time couldn’t be more urgent for our voice to contribute to this conversation, and we have a unique perspective based on three decades of applied research. Stay tuned for more from Milenko about the Institute.
  4. We will continue with the core of our work: crafting beautiful art-filled community-built spaces, where, when finished, people say, “We did this!”

This work has already begun with exciting new partnerships mentoring King County Parks staff, working with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and supporting Compass Housing’s homeless housing efforts, among many others.

We are being audacious in our vision, because we believe in the old adage: “Make bold plans and mighty help will come to your aid.” Pomegranate’s work has never been just about one personit’s a collective effortand all of you have supported us through your generosity or assistance at some point.

I invite you to join us on this journey, and I hope you continue to support our work. Feel free to do so in the following ways:

  • Email me at I would love to hear directly from you about your ideas for the organization, possible projects, people I should meet, and more. Don’t be shy!
  • Spread the word. There are people who should know about uswe are in need of champions who can expose Pomegranate Center to new arenas of practice.
  • Donate generously, of course. Financial contributions are still a mainstay of our organization. For instance, GiveBIG is coming up and that is a great opportunity to contribute. If you want to consider a larger gift, I will happily shake you down for whatever I canlet’s talk!
  • Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on our work.
  • Like us on Facebook to be in touch.