Taking community building to a new level


Nancy Ward just stepped down as Chair of the ECCO Board after two years of stellar service in bringing people together to strengthen the East Calhoun neighborhood and the larger community.

“Nancy has been a very effective president,” said Monica Smith, ECCO administrator. “She is passionate about making East Calhoun a great place to live. She encourages neighbors to get involved with the community and invites suggestions and feedback. She has championed our monthly socials as a way to meet neighbors, share ideas and build community. She feels strongly that ECCO is not just a 12 member board, rather is it is the community at large who have a have a say in what happens in the neighborhood. I’ve enjoyed working with Nancy and will miss her energy and commitment.”

The feeling is mutual. Nancy gives high praise to Monica for helping to make her job as President fun and fulfilling. Nancy emphasizes that collaboration is the key ingredient for community success and that the individual hero archetype is fading away.

Having lived most of her life in Wisconsin, Nancy moved to Minneapolis five years ago. She intended to rent for awhile, but instead found herself drawn to “For Sale” signs on houses near the Chain of Lakes. When a realtor showed her a house in the East Calhoun neighborhood Nancy said, “I knew I was home.”

In learning about the neighborhood and getting to know people, Nancy connected with long time resident, Ruth Cain. Ruth invited her to the ECCO Annual Meeting where she was recruited to serve on the ECCO Board. The next year she was elected President. Nancy thinks of Ruth as a role model for civic involvement and seeks to emulate that way of living in community.

Next steps for Nancy include doing more of what she’s always done – working with plants and people.

She is involved in numerous urban gardening projects. A priority is Gardening Matters, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving community gardening across the Twin Cities by connecting gardeners to each other and to the communities in which they reside. The organization also provides training and resources to support community gardeners in achieving community gardens that are successful and sustainable.

Nancy is involved in fostering healthy local food systems which draw out the knowledge and experience that exist in many communities in the metro area. She is especially interested in worm composting to create urban scale systems that produce clean soil and healthy food. “I get to live into my values,” says Nancy. “I feel very blessed.”