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Featherbone receives the 2010 Innovation Award
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Featherbone Communiversity is an innovator, or at least a regional policies group thinks so.

The Southern Growth Policies Board recently announced that the communiversity is a recipient of its 2010 Innovator Award for Georgia.

The board annually gives the award to one organization in each of its 13-member states.

The award is given “in recognition of initiatives that are improving opportunities and the quality of life in the region.”

“We are certainly honored and think this is a wonderful reflection on our (founding organizations),” said Gus Whalen, one of the communiversity’s founding partners.

The communiversity was established in 2007 on Chestnut Street, on the site of a former manufacturing facility.

After the facility closed in 2005, a group of local leaders came up with the idea of forming an “intergenerational learning enterprise” that would benefit the entire community.

With the commitment of the founding organization — Lanier Technical College, Brenau University and the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids Inc. — the communiversity was born.

“It was one of those things that, as it evolved, the purpose became obvious. But that was hard to see at the beginning,” Whalen said.

“I think the example that was established here is one that can be replicated in any number of communities across the country.”

Under the communiversity umbrella, there are several collaborative programs in place, including a business incubator, adult education courses and learning activities for children.

“I think what the board is recognizing is a model for a new kind of learning community where learning is real-time, collaborative and intergenerational,” Whalen said.

Other 2010 award recipients include DesignSeed in Alabama, IDEAcorps in Louisiana and Fayetteville Forward in Arkansas. Each of the 13 award winners will be recognized at the Southern Growth’s Chairman’s Conference in June.

The policies board is a regional public policy think tank that was created in 1971 to “develop and advance economic development polices by providing a forum for collaboration.”

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