“We do our best to make our Zoom meetings fun, but nothing beats an in-person connection. We’re looking forward to our in-person meetings and the beers that usually follow. We know we won’t ever take that for granted again.” – Gillian Small, Charlotte Shapers
Building the next generation of Charlotte leaders is a tough job. But, trying to build a community of young leaders is even tougher during a pandemic.
But, that’s exactly what Charlotte Shapers is trying to do.
Charlotte Shapers is the Queen City’s local chapter of Global Shapers, a network of more than 400 chapters in 150 international countries. Similar to organizations like CreativeMornings, Shapers are united by a common goal — supporting young people in working together to address local, regional and global challenges.
According to Gillian Small, president/curator of the Charlotte chapter, “[Our] hub of the Global Shapers community was created in 2012 to be a force for positive change in the community. We work individually and collectively to promote equity, justice and innovation in Charlotte.”
Charlotte Shapers members provide consulting for local nonprofits and partners with local groups undertaking work that aligns with their own mission. “”We don’t want to recreate the wheel. We know there is amazing work happening in Charlotte, and consider ourselves successful when we are able to elevate that amazing work for the betterment of our community,” said Gillian.
Missing Live Meetings
The chapter recruits a new class each year to do that work, but have always relied on live, meet-ups to recruit new members, build community within the group and address important issues, like the state of mental health in Charlotte, through events like their Charlotte Shapes topic series.
Like nonprofits across the city, the country and the world, COVID-19 has required new thinking when it comes to events. That’s required them to remain mindful of the past, while building something new through Zoom and other tools.
While they long for the return of in-person events, Charlotte Shapers has transferred their talents in new directions. Thus far, says Small, it’s working. But, it hasn’t been without challenges.
Here are Charlotte Shaper’s Three Biggest Creative Challenges on October 30, 2020, as told by Gillian Small
We are an all-volunteer group. Everyone has a job and other priorities naturally take up a lot of our time and energy. We’re all young professionals trying to build our careers and asking people to volunteer their evenings after a long day at work is tough. The pressures and restrictions of this moment make this proposition even tougher.
Many of us spend our workdays on Zoom calls in between fretting about a world that seems to be falling apart. Who wants to end a day like that with another Zoom call? Still, we show up and keep our eyes on the mission: to uplift individuals, nonprofits and small businesses in the Charlotte community.
We thrive on our connections with each other. We are a community — we learn from each other, support each other, and genuinely enjoy spending time together. Most of all, we’re friends! We haven’t gotten to truly experience our community since March and we miss each other.
We do our best to make our Zoom meetings fun, but nothing beats an in-person connection. We’re looking forward to our in-person meetings and the beers that usually follow. We know we won’t ever take that for granted again.
Feeling Satisfied with Virtual Events
We aim for a signature event each year, and we had big plans for an amazing summer event designed to fire up young professionals about getting involved in the political process. We had it all planned out — it was going to be amazing. Obviously, we had to switch gears.
As we’ve switched to virtual events, we’ve needed to manage the emotions tied to those events. We want to make as big of an impact as virtual events will allow and we’ve struggled with managing our expectations. Missing in-person events won’t do much good. Instead, we are investing our energy in feeling proud of each virtual event we plan.
Shape Up Charlotte with Charlotte Shapers
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