Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Create Innovation with Caitlin McLaren

Catalyst Miami is uniquely defined by five intrinsic values: leadership, collaboration, innovation, self-empowerment, and compassion. Combined, these values tell the compelling story of how individuals connect to our organization and thrive to make a collective impact in their communities. Enjoy staff member Gina Ha's beautiful original paintings and story as they unfold over five days leading up to Give Miami Day December 12. Follow our journey of five noteworthy Catalyst Champions who embody these values.

Caitlin MacLaren is an innovative trailblazer who re-envisioned visual storytelling and community connections in a way that propelled the mission and vision of Catalyst Miami during her year of service as a Public Ally. Caitlin explains how her experience as a member of Catalyst Miami enhanced her knowledge of Miami and ignited an unwavering interest in telling other people’s stories.

The journey starts with leadership; the ability and willingness to dream with an internal compass (read more)... 
Collaboration makes the feat possible, incorporating various gifts from others: passion that fuels, ideas that then radiate (read more)...

Innovation is the unique product of collaboration and the vehicle that drives ideas into reality and stretches realms of possibility.
As a magnet school student from first to 12th grade, I was always in classes with people from across Miami-Dade County. But at the end of the school day we all went back to our respective neighborhoods, and when I graduated high school I felt I knew little about the city I grew up in.
Looking to learn more about my community, I began volunteering at Catalyst Miami (then known as the Human Services Coalition), and eventually I became an AmeriCorps Public Ally placed at Catalyst.
As a part of the civic life and communications team, I worked on telling the story of the organization and the incredible people in our community who were actively making Miami a better place. The goal was to celebrate the work that was already being done and to inspire others to get involved.
I was given a lot of freedom to explore different mediums for telling these stories, through blog posts, videos, and even podcasts. My friend and co-worker Cal and I made many videos together during our year in Public Allies. Some of them were silly, some were heartfelt; we once wrote a rap about healthcare reform. We experimented with stop motion and audio slideshows. My favorite thing we produced by far was a podcast about a participant in the Parent Leadership Training Institute, Carmen, who had started a soccer league for children with special needs like her son Devon, who is on the autism spectrum.  
Having this be an audio-only piece lets you really engage with the sounds of kids running through a park in West Kendall and makes you hear the love in Carmen’s voice when she talks to Devon. And the best part is when Devon makes a goal and yells, “I did it! Me!” Hearing Devon’s cheers, it’s hard not to feel a little of his giddiness.
Being able to spend hours each week listening to people from across Miami tell their stories was a great privilege for me, and I really wanted other people to hear their stories the way I did. In addition to being a lot of fun, trying out all sorts of storytelling techniques was critical to my job of engaging people in the work we were doing. I think the material Cal and I produced that year reflects the organization and where we value innovation. We’re a little bit quirky, and we always “keep it Catalyst”.
Caitlin MacLaren is a Catalyst Champion. Would you consider being a champion as well? Commit now to support Catalyst Miami on Give Miami Day December 12th and join our local movement to connect for good.

Our Stories:
Light the Leadership Path with Ed Soto, Collaborate Across Ages with Woody Pagan, Create Innovation with Caitlin McLaren, Engage and Empower with Maisah Williams, Caring and Sharing with Myrian Crissien