It’s Homecoming weekend for Penn Staters. I was hoping to be there, but there are a slew of personal and professional things I want to focus on that will keep me away from State College. However, I will be calling in to The Nittany Valley Society‘s third quarter board meeting to review the progress of this year and preview the next few months.

This spring will mark four years since we founded The Nittany Valley Society. We came together as volunteers because we shared a vision for a new sort of nonprofit community voice, specifically to give form to the concept of a cultural conservancy that can do for a community’s spirit what traditional conservancies do for a community’s soil.

Nittany Valley Press has created a platform for stories to be shared, and the Nittany Valley Heritage Walk exists as a means for personalities to be remembered in a special way. Another project that’s been in the works practically since our inception relates to Penn State’s history, and though this project has had to operate on the glacial timeframe of the university, I think we’ll be able to share the fruits of this work sometime next year.

But the specifics aside, the consistent challenge for volunteer nonprofit boards is ensuring vision corresponds with momentum. In other words, the consistent challenge is ensuring each board member knows how to be useful to everyone else. This is, operationally, how a team gives form to a vision. Like Homecoming weekend itself, a board meeting among volunteers is a chance to go back in time, encounter flashes of the past that brought you to where you are now, and prepare you to leave again energized and hopeful for the future.

We’ve achieved a lot in these first few years. There are decades left of worthwhile work to do.