Wednesday, 28 October 2020

And Our New Name is...

After several go rounds and surveys and input from lots of different places, we have settled on:


Wildflower Alliance

What is the significance of wild flowers?: Since there beginning of RLC existence, our logo has been a boot with flowers. The boot is worn and torn, and meant to represent the bumps and bruises we experience on our path through life, while the flowers are meant to represent the beauty and growth that are born of that journey. It was created by Janice Sorensen who was a member of the original Guiding Council of Western Mass (formed a couple of years before the RLC was funded), and also worked as the RLC's County Coordinator in Franklin County (among other contributions). Recently, Janice reminded us that the daisies pictured in the boot are actually one of the most popular and well known wild flowers around. So, in some ways, this name represents coming into alignment with our visual representation (logo).

The significance goes beyond just that, though. Wild flowers are also often mistaken for something to be gotten rid of, as weeds. They are misunderstood, and sometimes their beauty is ignored or devalued. Yet, wild flowers are strong, and able to grow and flourish in a variety of places. Some wild flowers (like dandelions, for example), form tremendously strong underground networking systems with their roots, and represent survival even in the most challenging conditions.

Ultimately, for all these reasons, we see wild flowers as being much like ourselves: Sometimes our power, beauty, and wisdom gets overlooked or dismissed. Yet, we remain strong and resilient (able to bounce back from the bad things that happen to us), and through connection with others, we are able to build networks that can help us survive the most difficult storms. Our potential for growth is great, if given a chance.


Remind us again why you wanted to change your name?: Language is important; Moreso than many people give it credit for... and we've been sitting with that discomfort and trying to figure out what to do for some time now. Ultimately, there are several reasons changing our name has felt important. First, the word 'recovery' has felt hard to many in our community. For some, it has felt like a disconnect because there is nothing that they want to "recover" (or go back to). For others, it's been frustrating how often it's been confused with a support focused strictly on problems with substance use. And, for still others, "recovery" has felt like a box that is too small, and not a good fit. Meanwhile, many of us also grew tired of how often we were called the "Recovery Learning Center" which was not just a simple mistake in wording, but also felt like a misrepresentation of how important and intentional the language of "community" is to who we are and what we do. We also felt that "Western Mass" in the title was confusing, given that some of our work is now nationally and internationally focused, even if a great deal of it is still centered right here in the Western region of Massachusetts. For all these reasons and more, it felt time to make a change.

But, wont it be confusing to have a name that doesn't say what you are or do?: People who responded to our surveys about a name change were pretty evenly split. Some felt we should only have a name that used words that have meanings related to our work (e.g., "recovery", "healing", "support", "resilience"), while others said they liked the idea of something that was a little less obvious. Overall, we decided on something that didn't have an obvious meaning for several reasons.

First, in our experience, although words like "recovery" appear to have an obvious meaning, they actually mean different things to different people, and lead them to make assumptions. For some people, "recovery" is linked to emotional distress and well being. But, to many others, it's linked striclty to problems with substances. Many people also have differing ideas about whether recovery is a "life long" process or not, and so on. Ultimately, we regularly found that people misunderstood the RLC's purpose and focus based on that word that seemed so obvious to many people. We believe that Wildflower Alliance will leave space for the many different meanings and interpretations and experiences that our community actually represents.

Secondly, words that have meaning now are often quick to shift over the years. They become "buzz words" over used and misued by various people and groups. They fall out of favor, or becoming co-opted (used by people who twist the meaning to fit what they want it to fit, etc.). Choosing a name that has words with very specific meanings right now runs the risk of ending up with a name that stops feeling like a good fit a few years down the road. We believe that Wildflower Alliance is much less likely to suffer from becoming a "buzz word" or aging poorly.

Finally, we would also challenge everyone to look at business names around them. While some do have names that use words that very concretely represent what they do, many more groups, business, and organizations use words that require some exploration or explanation than you might realize. Take a look around your community, and notice how many names don't actually explain exactly what the organization or store offers (even some of the ones that seem like they do at first glance). The true understanding of what a community, group, or organization has to offer - including the Wildflower Alliance - comes through the connection process, and by word of mouth from people like you.

What will happen to the name "Western Mass recovery Learning Community" or "RLC"?: This change will be a process. At least for some period of time, you'll hear us using phrases like "Formerly known as the Western Mass RLC" or maybe even, "Home to the Western Mass RLC". (We're still working out some of those details.) So, it won't go away entirely. Not for quite some time, anyway!

What are the next steps in this process?: Now that we've announced our decision, we've got some work to do. Changing a name of an organization - and especially one that's been around for over a decade - takes some work! We'll be making lists of things that need to change, and what is involved with each. E-mails. Websites. Letterhead. The change will not be immediate, but we'll begin working on it in February, and hopefully have everything in place by the summer!

Let us know if you have any suggestions or feedback you want to share by e-mailing us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!



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