Many Conversations, One Community! Join Us, January 17 For The Next Community Commons

The idea that resonated most with those attending the December 20 (Third Tuesday) Community Commons, was bringing dialogue into the community – in homes, in service clubs, through the Neighbor2Neighbor platform, and through “intentional intersectionality” of diverse groups and individuals.

At our January 17 Community Commons, we will provide a free training on how to host a “Conversation Cafe” on your own.  This easy to use format helps to keep even difficult conversations civil, promotes listening and connection, and works well even when people don’t know each other before joining in the conversation.

At today’s Columbia Values Diversity celebration breakfast, keynote speaker Nonombi Naomi Tutu urged all to do more than celebrate diversity.  She urged all to actively work to “build a beloved community.”  We do that work when we connect, listen to one another, and talk together.

Three banners decorated the breakfast hall. As the program explained, these illustrated “a few ways inclusion can be fostered:  in our city’s infrastructure (Build banner), through activism (Inclusive banner), and in our daily lives and hobbies (Community banner).”  These three themes echo those in our community dialogue guide, “Are We An Us?” — collaboration (Citizen-centered planning), care (Addressing Inequities), and connection (Building Bridges).

Download a guide, start a conversation, build a beloved community, join us!

Community Commons
Tuesday, January 17, 7-9 pm
Enter the Tribune Training Room on Walnut Street, between 5th and Providence.

Sponsored by The Columbia Daily Tribune in partnership with the Kettering Foundation.

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.

“Loving All Our Neighbors”

Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and the Islamic Center of Central Missouri have announced they will be holding a community conversation on inclusion, titled “Loving All Our Neighbors”, on Tuesday Feb. 16 at Rock Bridge Christian Church, 301 W. Green Meadows Rd., Columbia. This free gathering will include an optional potluck dinner at 6 p.m. and a panel discussion and community conversation starting at 7 p.m.

Come and discuss a range of related topics –inclusion, the embrace of diversity, addressing racism, Islamophobia, and the plight of refugees and undocumented people.

The panel of speakers for this event includes:

  • Rasha Abousalem, Director of Humanitarian Operations with Global First Responders, who led a mission last month to Calais, France camp where thousands of war refugees are temporarily living;
  • Alejo Gonzalez, MU English/Psychology student who works with at-risk youth;
  • Marquise Griffin, MU graduate student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis program with an emphasis on Higher Education; and
  • Faisan Syad, Executive Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) St. Louis.

A Bridge Begun

The healing power of music was evident on Saturday night as the Columbia Chorale, Columbia Youth Choirs and Community Gospel Choir combined for a community concert promoting unity at the Missouri United Methodist Church.  The choir was diverse, the audience was diverse and the music was enjoyed by all who packed the pews, both on the main floor and the balcony. The program notes for “Where Do We Go From Here”, composed by the Community Gospel Choir conductor Lamont Walker and featuring the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., included this statement:

Right now, the Columbia Community is in need of unity to usher in healing to the broken, hurting, wounded, and oppressed. Sincere, authentic, and unconditional love for mankind will break down all of the walls and barriers that divide us.  It is that love that will bind hate, pierce color lines, and demand justice for all.”

Judging from the attendance, there are many in Columbia looking to bridge that which divides us.

Building Bridges

Another strategy identified in past forums for restoring a sense of community was for different groups to get together with those they don’t regularly talk or work with in order to get to know each other.  And participants emphasized the importance of listening.

These last two weeks provided several opportunities for people to come together, whether to talk about common interests, such as the dialogue held by the Cradle to Career Alliance on January 11 as part of their “Raising of America” video series; to celebrate our diverse community as many did at the 2016 Columbia Values Diversity celebration; or simply to come together in fellowship and support as others did at the breakfast buffet held at St. Luke United Methodist Church.

Here are some quotes from the week, all aligned with the strategy of building bridges:

“We are one. There’s no color -we’re all just one.  And when we can decide that we’re one, then Columbia can unite together.”  – Rev. James Gray, Second Missionary Baptist Church, quoted in the Columbia Missourian Jan. 19, 2016

“There are people that need a meal, and we have a meal for them.” – Annabelle Simmons, St. Luke United Methodist Church, quoted in the Columbia Daily Tribune Jan. 18, 2016

“We stop exploring, we stop challenging ourselves to learn.” – Brenda Jackson, Stephens College Student Government Association President, quoted in the Columbia Daily Tribune, Jan. 19, 2016

“I’m pleased we honor diversity, and eventually we will get to a more accepting community – we just have to keep moving forward in recognizing and accepting each other’s differences.”  Barbra Horrell,  Columbia Values Diversity 2016 Individual Honoree, quoted in the Columbia Daily Tribune, Jan. 14, 2016