Book Review:  IGNITE: Getting Your Community Coalition “Fired Up” for Change by Frances Dunn Butterfoss

Several years ago I had the privilege to attend Coalitions 101 in my role with the Fairbanks Wellness Coalition.  I got my first copy of Ignite as a participant.  It’s an honor to be on the FWC steering committee in my role as Reentry Coalition Coordinator. As I started in my new position I was gifted another copy of the book.  It was a timely reminder on the role of coalitions.  “Coalitions have the power to catalyze a spark of an idea about how our communities could be healthier.”

What does it mean to build a coalition around the idea of creating a safer, stronger community by giving returning citizens keys that lead to stable housing, meaningful work, transportation, cultural connections and access to health care?  It means that we gather the agencies and people together to bring their resources, ideas and dreams to the table. The coalition is not a funder, nor an agency, we are a connector. Members of our community that are returning from serving their sentence are the beneficiaries.  In particular, we identify the barriers to services by listening. Finding an employer isn’t impossible, but without transportation getting to work can be a challenge. This brings up a transportation gap from 7:45pm on Saturday until Monday morning there is no public transit for those using the bus. Taking this one goal of increasing bus hours we can effect change that not only helps our reentrants but anyone relying on public transportation.  In cooperation with the Fairbanks North Star Borough we can advocate for a goal on their Priority Plan to increase the hours of operation. Our voice joins other voices calling for change and fans the flames.

By myself I might recognize barriers and gaps in services but alone I am powerless to bring about change.  Together we can identify the strategies that will reduce the barriers, fill in the gaps and fan the flame of change.  Butterfoss shows us how to build the fire and then sustain it in this practical step by step manual.

Linda Setterberg

As the Fairbanks Reentry Coalition Coordinator,  my job is to bring agencies and people to the table to give reentering citizens the keys to successfully achieve their personal goals.