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Building COnnections

But what does it take to engage new populations? How can your organization better connect to its community? What are the programs you need to build engaged audiences? I've more than a decade of experience answering these questions. I've run community development programs deep in the bush in Senegal, West Africa and volunteer programs in the suburban jungle of the San Francisco Bay Area. I help organizations identify their needs and then find the community partnerships they needed to meet those needs. Everywhere I've been, I have helped people connect with organizations and organizations connect with their environment.

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Background

My professional journey seemed to walk two paths at first: environmental education and community building. It took many years to realize that these two paths were one and the same. Now, I help organizations build community around their missions and locations.

Peace Corps Senegal

For two years, I lived in Dindefello, Senegal, in the far southeast part of the country. In addition to learning to live on 20 liters of water per day, speak Pulaar and how to cook warthog, I worked with local school systems to improve their out-of-class programming. My coworkers and I organized a career-preparatory summer camp for middle school students in the region. I helped a variety of women's and community groups build gardens with funding from the US Agency for International Development. I really enjoyed the weekly radio show that we aired throughout the region. Most weeks were lessons on planting trees or sanitation, but for two weeks, I ran a folk-tale retelling of one my favorite films: The Princess Bride. Here's a clip from episode two:


John Muir National Historical Site

After the Peace Corps, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. The John Muir National Historical Site was the home of one of the greatest conservationists of the United States. It was in his old Victorian mansion that John Muir penned the words that later made national parks out of Yosemite, Mount Rainier, Grand Canyon, Sequoia and established the basis for the National Park Service. In addition to flexing my public speaking muscles on a daily basis, I helped turned a small, nine-acre piece of land into a community center. With the help from a local high school, we turned the park into an outdoor classroom, giving alternative students a chance to learn without the confines of desks and walls. I established an internship program with another high school for at-risk teens to teach elementary school students about conservation. I doubled the size of our volunteer program and brought locals into the park for our family programs.


Antioch University New England - Glover's Ledge

When Antioch University New England accepted me into their graduate program, I was also accepted for a job with the university to manage a property they just acquired a coupled of months earlier. My task: to bring the Antioch learning community out to the site - 74 acres of forest - for research and recreation. I connected with professors, created social media networks and mobilized students and local community members to build the infrastructure we'll need. Every day, we made the property more of a part of the Antioch community.


Prial Outreach Consulting

In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own consulting business dedicated to building community and connections. I defined outreach as providing a service to the community that engages potential and current customers and reached out to for- and non-profit ventures looking to make more of an impact on the world around them. Early clients included Board of Directors for The Community Kitchen, the Monadnock Ecological Research and Education Project and Monadnock Buy Local's crowdfunding platform.

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portfolio

Please enjoy this selected portfolio of my work ranging from educational programs to evaluation plans and from free writing to digital media.

Digital and Social Media Projects

Curriculum, Reports and Program Designs

The Princess Bride in Pulaar

On of my favorite projects of all time was a radio drama I created from my favorite movie: The Princess Bride. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I retold the story as a folk tale in the language of the southwest corner of Senegal: Pula Futa or Pulaar de Guinea. I added some free music and sound effects and played it in two installments over the course of two weeks. I'll never forget wandering through the little village of Dande above Dindefello and coming across a little old woman who turned to me and asked with anticipation: "But what will happen to Buttercup?!"

Nature Writing

Over the years, I have dabbled in some classic nature writing on my journeys. Here's an example from the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe in California.