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.

 

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.

Building Bridges – Suggestions From The Community

A young lawyer from China, who lived in Columbia and participated in our last forum recently wrote us with the following suggestion:

I asked several of my friends, who are from different countries, that question “How to build bridges between communities”  and several of them suggested that sports may be a good way, especially soccer. Therefore, I think a city sponsored soccer tournament might be considered to connect people for different communities in Columbia. This tournament can be named as the “Columbia small world cup”.

 

He then listed several reasons why such a soccer tournament could be a good tool for building bridges in our community. These included:

1) Soccer is very popular in Columbia. As far as I know, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Myanmar, Ghana, Mexican, and some people from Middle East have their own soccer teams and play soccer every week. However, these teams rarely play with each other. A soccer tournament can provide opportunities for these soccer teams to know each other, play together, and build up deep relationships.

2) A soccer tournament will be a small cost event for the city. The main cost for a soccer tournament is renting soccer fields. However, since the city owns lots of nice soccer fields, for example Cosmo park, the cost will be very small if the city is willing to hold a soccer tournament. In addition, the city can charge affordable registration fee ($200~300/team) from soccer teams to minimize its cost.

3) Lots of people may attend a soccer tournament. Usually one soccer team has 20 players, and their families and friends will come and watch the games.

 

Join our online forum tomorrow, June 21 from 5 to 6 and share your ideas for building bridges across our community.  Go to www.columbiatribune.com and follow the prompts.

Have thoughts about how to make a “Columbia small world cup” tournament a reality?  Share them in the comment section below!

 

 

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.