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‘We the people’ tackle issues, form solutions

Citizens involved in the Heart of Hendersonville Project took part in breakout groups on civic engagement to solve problems. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO] Citizens involved in the Heart of Hendersonville Project took part in breakout groups on civic engagement to solve problems. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

Eighty-five members of the Heart of Hendersonville project met recently at the City Operations Center to connect, brainstorm and identify next action steps in four issue groups.

“It was a gathering of We, the People — civilly and civically engaged. State Sen. Chuck Edwards, Mayor Barbara Volk and Mayor Pro Tem Ron Stephens participated right along with us,” said organizers Pam and Charley Rogers.
The Project, which had its launch event on March 15, was centered around the Parker J. Palmer’s “Healing the Heart of Democracy,” which makes the case for why it is imperative to bridge divides, work together and build community.
As a result of the launch, 18 book study groups, with 5-6 people in each, were generated throughout Hendersonville. Each group read and discussed the book over four sessions.
The purpose of the subsequent Action Meeting was to design a space that accomplished the following:
• To bring local issues closer to the people, with an open exchange of ideas;
• To create possibilities to make positive contributions to the community;
• To involve more of Hendersonville’s under-represented residents in civic discourse, processes and opportunities; and,
• To build trust, mutual understanding, and relationships that will outlive the initiative.
“In preparation for the Action Meeting, we asked each group to identify the top two issues Hendersonville is facing that most concern them. We ranked the top four from their responses, which were: Bridging the Racial Divide, Realities and Possibilities; Immigration Policies and How They Are Impacting Our Latino Community; Affordable Housing Shortage; the Drug Epidemic.
“At the Action Meeting, a work area was created for each of the four issues. Participants chose their issue, went to that group and began the process of discussion, brainstorming, and, ultimately, determining next steps,” said Charley Rogers.
“The event’s success was the diversity of people in the room. There was a beautiful mix of black, brown, and white — Democrat and Republican — young and elder. Everyone’s voice was heard and valued.
“We’re proud to report that definitive next steps came out of all four issue groups, which means they will continue to meet and will remain civically engaged,” said Pam Rogers. “We hope more people in Hendersonville will hear about the Project and want to join in. There is a role for everyone.”
For more information, contact Pam and Charley Rogers at pamrogers525@gmail.com.