Driving While Black: Addressing Inequities

Whether you call it profiling or disparate impact, the data shows that in both Columbia and Boone County, black drivers are more likely than white drivers to be stopped by police. Sunday’s article “Driving While Black”  reviews the data, the questions, and the consequences related to this fact.  Readers have observed that this pattern relates to poverty and other inequities identified in past forums.

What questions do you have? What experiences would you like to share? What changes would you like to make in our community? Why and how?

Come join other citizens on September 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the offices of the Tribune (enter on Walnut Street) for another citizen-led dialogue. Share what’s on your mind and listen to others.

Real people, real dialogue.  Join in a conversation that matters. We hope to see you on September 20.

The Transmission Line: Many Questions

Since the online forum on August 23rd, tax abatements have been approved for an upgrade of the Dana Light Axle Products facility, and the mayor has announced a new medical tourism initiative. Yet the issue of how we are going to meet the electric service needs of new industry or our energy intensive medical facilities remains stalled.

Our August 23 forum focused on “citizen-centered planning,” using as a case study the City Council’s decision to “pause” construction on the new transmission line while researching potential alternatives to the previously approved route (“Option A”). Citizens joining the August 23 forum raised questions about the costs of delay, the costs of potential alternatives, the costs incurred to date, the timeline for decision, and whether and how the public will be engaged in any future discussion of what is to be done.

As citizens in our past forums have observed, “People want to be informed.”  The council’s lack of discussion on a timeline, on the consequences of delay, or on the criteria for future decisions on this key issue, is not providing citizens with information they want and need.

Citizens at past forums made the following observations about how the city council approaches the issues of growth:

  • “they avoid the hard issues until those must be addressed;”
  • “They spend most of their time cleaning up messes rather than presenting clearly defined programs aimed at achieving goals;”
  • “They are always working in hindsight mode.”

We can’t meet our energy needs by talking about what “might work” or by simply hoping the whole uncomfortable issue goes away. If we are going to announce new initiatives intended to promote our economy, we should be discussing at the same time how the necessary infrastructure will be put in place to support both current and future needs. This applies not only to electric infrastructure but to sewers, water, and roads as well.

As Hank Waters said in a recent editorial:

After all these months of delay, the city council needs to get off the dime. It will never be rid of conflicting opinion on this issue. If the council has enough reason to abandon Option A, it should have the final stages of a lucid discussion and make another decision, but it will have to overcome the obvious arguments in favor of proceeding as planned.

In future posts we will further explore the issues of costs and process raised on August 23.

Join Us August 23

This Tuesday, August 23rd from 5 to 6 p.m. we will host our next on-line Trib Talks forum using the Cover It Live platform. We will focus on “citizen centered planning” using the current transmission line controversy as a case study.

You can review last Sunday’s article by Caitlin Campbell  for an up to date summary of the transmission line issue, and review past coverage or the  information page on the city website for even more information.

To participate in the forum, simply visit www.columbiatribune.com at 5 p.m. (or shortly before) Tuesday, click on the link and join in.

Can’t join us? Review the transcript on our archive page after the forum, or host your own dialogue and report back in!

Host A Dialogue!

Concerned about where we going as a country and as a community?  What can an ordinary citizen do to make a change?  You can help by participating in a new kind of conversation – one that focuses on “all of us” and not “us” v. “them”.   You can join in one of the Trib Talk Forums, or host your own conversation in your neighborhood, with your dinner group, in your faith community, or anywhere that your friends and neighbors gather.  Begin by downloading the community dialogue guide “Are We An Us?“, or one of the related mini-guides, “Addressing Inequities“, “Citizen Centered Planning“, or “Building Bridges“.  We have a checklist which will help you plan dialogues within your neighborhood or organization and report back in on thoughts shared.

Are We An Us? Part 3

Our forum participants asked the question “are we an us?” long before the violence of the last two weeks left leaders nationwide calling for dialogue. Efforts by local leaders to create more dialogue included a news conference where the issue of racial profiling was discussed, and an open mic event sponsored by MU’s Black Studies department.

To make a difference, dialogue needs to be sustained. It’s up to each of us to reach out, to listen, to share our own thoughts, to listen again, and to stay engaged.

Wondering where you might start? You can start by downloading the community dialogue guide “Are We An Us?“, or one of the related mini-guides, “Addressing Inequities“, “Citizen Centered Planning“, or “Building Bridges“.  We also have a checklist which will help you plan dialogues within your neighborhood or organization and report back in on thoughts shared.

The Tribune publication “Sharp End”, published in 2015, can also serve as a starting point for discussions about race in Columbia, as can the documentary “Battle: Change From Within“.  The “Charleston Syllabus,” which was created in response to the June 2015 murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina provides many additional resources.

Do you have additional resources to share?  Add your suggestions in the comment section below.

Dialogue Opportunity in the First Ward

There will be a Central Neighborhood Meeting and BBQ – Thursday, June 23 at St. Luke Church, 204 E. Ash Street.

BBQ will be provided by Big Daddy’s BBQ, between 4 and 6 p.m. at St. Luke. The meal is first come, first served to the first 200 people.

The Central Neighborhood Meeting will follow from 6 to 8 pm.   The meeting is open to all residents in the central neighborhood.

During the meeting residents will discuss economic development and job creation, law and criminal justice, youth leadership and development, health and human services as well as housing and infrastructure.  Leading the discussions is Carl Kenney. Carl is a Columbia native with deep experience in working with neighborhoods to facilitate discussions to bring about meaningful change.  If you are a central neighborhood resident please attend!  This kind of dialogue can  help to ensure that your neighborhood has a voice that is heard!

 

Are We An Us? Download The Guide And Join The Conversation!

“City asks for citizen input and then doesn’t do anything with it.”

“Vision, don’t forget VISION!!!”

“We don’t know our neighbors.”

“What would it be like if we could come together as one WHOLE community?”

Our past forums have made it clear that the citizens of Columbia are concerned about where we are going as a community. Our new community dialogue guide, titled Are We An Us?, shares the thoughts, ideas, and actions that have been captured to date.  You can download the guide and join the conversation.  Join in on this blog, on our next forum, or in your own backyard!  Our Neighbor2Neighbor guide walks you through the process of hosting your own conversation with friends and neighbors and reporting back in.

Our next forum is an on-line chat forum, hosted by Columbia Daily Tribune managing editor Jim Robertson, Tuesday July 21 from 5 to 6 pm. To join, go to http://columbiatribune.com/ on Tuesday and follow the link.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Our Town – Join Us Online June 21 at 5 pm

Did you know that between 2010 and 2015, Columbia grew twice as fast as Springfield and three times as fast as Kansas City? That more than 50 languages are spoken in our public schools? That we have students from more than 77 different countries? Find out more about how growth brings both diversity and prosperity and much more in the Columbia Daily Tribune’s 2016 Our Town guide. Print copies were included in the Sunday paper June 12 and can be purchased at the Tribune’s offices.

Join us online for a Trib Talks forum June 21 at 5 pm to talk about Our Town and its future.

Community Forum On Equity and Race

A number of organizations and community groups are hosting a forum on race and equity issues across the city, with a particular focus on education and poverty.  You are invited!  The forum will be held at Hickman High School, in the gymnasium, Tuesday May 3, 5:30 to 7 pm.  Hosts include Heart of Missouri United Way, the Columbia Public Schools, University of Missouri and the City of Columbia.

More Divides

In addition to healing divisions reflecting age, class and race,  participants in our February forum further identified a need to build bridges of communication and collaboration between City and County governments, City government and citizens, and  citizens and City staff.  The Battle students raised the question of how to strengthen connections between schools and community. Several people observed that without proactive dialogue between citizens, planners, and elected leaders, Columbia runs the risk of developing a geographic divide between North and South Columbia, like the geographic divides that exist in the St. Louis area.    Holding regular community dialogues within school buildings could begin to address some of these issues.

Other communities, including  Carbondale IL, have used sustained community dialogue to help solve difficult issues.  Columbia headed in that direction with the Imagine Columbia’s Future visioning process, although that dialogue was not sustained following that process in the ways envisioned by the public.  What could a “community commons” for dialogue look like in Columbia?  What might we accomplish by working together?