Shine the Light: Community Engagement – by Timicia Grant

I got the pleasure to attend the Shine the Light forum. Which discussed how to engage the community through necessary conversations. The speaker, Jonathan Parker, highlighted the need for us to have the hard conversations in order to have transformative collaborations.  In order for us to do the very needed work that each of us are involved in we need to have honest conversations about what we are seeing and how we are going to go about changing it.

We don’t talk about that.  Jonathan brought up a very valid and somewhat disheartening fact: When it comes to the hard conversations, we simply don’t have them most of the time. When we do, it with people who we know will agree with our grievances and opinions and not challenge our way of thinking. However, when it counts, we are simply opting out of the conversation. One can’t help but think…is this helpful?

Although there are times that our passions run high, it is imperative that we do the necessary work of starting these conversations and have them frequently. I often notice that no one wants to challenge or be challenged. At times, we are so bogged down in the status quo of political correctness we fail to have real conversations. Transformative conversations for the sake of collaboration and working towards a greater good is how great things get accomplished. Rome was not built in a day, nor was it built by one person or type of person.

In our efforts to serve Greenville better I believe that we should begin to think intentionally about how we engage with each other so that the big things don’t fall through the cracks of silence. Whether it be poverty, gentrification, sexism, racism, abuse or homelessness we should start having the conversations. We should keep having the conversations and then those conversations should call us to action. What I gathered the most from this Shine the Light session is we can’t say that we “don’t talk about it”. We must be brave and bold in our quest to create a place where all those who live in our city feel that they are heard and that their voices are counted.

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