You Can Make A Difference

Join us for another Community Commons on October 18 from 7-9 pm at the Tribune offices (enter on Walnut St. between 4th and Providence).

Those who attended the first Community Commons held on September 20, divided into two separate groups for two separate, wide ranging conversations.

In the first, the focus was on building bridges and addressing inequities. Recognizing that inequity/inequality is very difficult to change, the group asked “what could we offer now so our children and grandchildren especially aren’t sitting around talking about this?” Ideas included special zoning to facilitate places where people could gather and interact, more press about activities in the African- American community that is informed by leaders in that community (it was noted those leaders should be identified by the black community and not denominated by those outside), more marketing and diversification of minority owned businesses, and the need for minority communities to also create community among their own members so as to better connect and celebrate accomplishments. The need for more dialogue among all citizens was also emphasized. The group also discussed various types of events that would help break down “taboo” things and locations. Come and contribute your ideas on October 18!

Another group focused on citizen-centered planning. Much of the discussion in this group focused on the stalled transmission line, which was brought up as an example of “broken governance.” Questions asked here included, “Who does council talk to? Just the loudest self interested voices? Experts available to them? Staff?” “How can we better involve citizens at the appropriate best time, not at the last minute?”, “How can we elevate issues to a focus on the public good?” and “How could those harmed or experiencing a monetary loss as a result of a decision made for the common good be compensated?” During the discussions a  distinction was made between “politicians” who are easily swayed by public dissent and “statesmen” who work to understand, translate, and resolve complex issues and move the community forward. Characteristics of “statesmen” that were identified included respecting process, respecting staff, focusing on the common good, and being honest about the hard issues. Participants agreed that citizens needed to be more involved on an ongoing basis as these issues unfolded and that both citizens and leaders needed to be accountable for their actions. What constitutes accountability and how do we achieve it?   Join us on October 18 as we explore this issue further.

We look forward to seeing you on October 18.

Build Bridges – Join Us September 20

In the Trib Talks June on-line forum we talked about “Our Town.” One participant referenced the “mixture of harmony and tension that underlies growth and diversity”. As in past forums, participants expressed concern about divides developing between North and South Columbia. Another participant observed “we need more opportunities that bring dissimilar people together to learn that we actually have more in common than not.”

After the forum yet another participant offered these comments through our survey:

I would like to see more joint projects between the universities and colleges and the youth of Columbia through the public schools and/or community organizations.

Most leaders do not interact with all the citizens! #1 would help break down these walls of economic and culture differences. It may allow a larger group of people to cross these cultural/ economic lines.

James Brown said, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door, and and I’ll get it my self. Education and shared experiences are the keys to open doors!

What divides are you concerned about?  What bridges would you like to see built?  Join us and other citizens for an in-person forum this Tuesday, September 20, from 7 to 9 pm at the Tribune’s offices. Enter from Walnut street.  We hope to see you there.

 

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.

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.

What’s In A Word?

A lot can be in a single word, including fear, distrust and misunderstanding. Sometimes identity – the question of “are you with me or against me” is embedded in that single word.

The emotions and unspoken questions that underlie our words can easily flare into conflict when we don’t stop to check our definitions.

Let’s consider the word “profiling.”  Recently members of our community stated their belief that profiling happens, the police chief questioned that belief, and emotions flared. Yet it’s not clear, reading the published reports and comments, that all those involved are using the same definition of the word.

Some would define profiling as disparate impact.  With this definition, the statistical disparities in the reported data on traffic stops are conclusive evidence of disparate impact, and thus of “profiling.”  The police chief admits that implicit bias is present in some officers, yet said that his department does not profile.  His comments in context suggest he might be using a different definition than disparate impact. When he says there is no profiling, he might mean that there is no departmental policy or formal intent to encourage the targeting of minorities.

Is there evidence of disparate impact in traffic stops? Yes there is. Are there reports of personal experiences that show bias and fear?  Yes there are. Is there a systematic policy and intentional targeting across the department of minority citizens? That is not so clear. Can we separate out the issues of statistics, experience, and policy, then examine those and see how they inform each other? Yes we can. Can we try to listen to each other as different perspectives are shared, and better translate the underlying fears and concerns? Yes we can.

What if we looked past the word “profiling” and talked instead about the specifics of what we know, what other information we might begin to gather, how we would like it be, what progress would look like, how it might be monitored, and how we might work together to make that progress? Could we make progress? Maybe we could.

Share your own thoughts and experiences in the comment section below or send an email to editor@columbiatribune.com with “Trib Talks forum” in the subject line.

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.

Are We An Us? Part 2

For the last month we have been meeting with our community partners, finalizing our dialogue guide, and returning to the Kettering Foundation to discuss our learning exchange.  Later this month we will launch our guide, titled “Are We An Us? A Guide for Dialogue About Community” along with a schedule of activities. Look for that on this blog!  You are welcome to download the guide and host your own discussion with your friends, family, neighborhood association, service organization or other group.

Also last month Columbia was named the 4th largest city in Missouri, passing Independence.  This reflects rapid growth over the past decade, and that growth continues.  Columbia passed the 100,000 mark in 2008 and is projected to exceed 200,000 by 2030.  As our forum participants observed, that growth has stressed our community in many ways.

How do we create or maintain a sense of community as we grow? Talking with each other across lines of race, place, and income is one way to do that. We hope to foster that conversation here and in other forums. Join in the conversation and watch for the guide!