Great conversations at the Forum of Neighbors
December 6th more than two dozen neighbors came together at the Interchurch Center to share concerns and hopes … and to imagine solutions to problems. It was a strikingly diverse group, ranging in age from 4 to 80. Rev. Anastassia Zinke kicked it off by describing her experiences at Standing Rock (she returned to Indianapolis just a few hours before the forum). Everyone introduced themselves. People identified themselves as belonging to congregations and to secular groups such as the Center for Inquiry and Indy Pride. Then the conversations started flowing.
Everyone was given sticky notes and asked to record ideas and insights inspired by the dialogue. They posted the notes as answers to several questions:
- What did you learn tonight that surprised you?
- Who should be part of future conversations?
- What can you do personally to address the challenges we’ve discussed?
- What can we as a community do to address the challenges?
What did you learn this evening that surprised you?
- We are connected to a long tradition of people who care
- Had insight into the fear children may be experiencing based on media
- Remembering affinity groups can be a major agent for change
- The People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond – undoing racism
- Let’s talk about the election and what it means and not shy away from it
Who should be part of future conversations?
- Our mayor
- IndyCAN.org (Indianapolis Congregational Action Network, especially with their Jobs, not Jails initiative)
- People not affiliated with any religion
- Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, VFW
- College age Democrats & Republicans at surrounding schools
- Young people of all ages (grade school up to college age)
- Exodus – they could be part of a presentation for how to safeguard Muslims
- Community organizations such as SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), Indy Philanthropy, Don’t Sleep, ACLU, Freedom Indiana
- Reba Boyd Wooden’s Center for Inquiry Indiana, Secularists, and Conservatives
- CIC – spread the word about safety pins, create forum for conservative/progressive, lecture on sanctuary church *
- Any and all
What can you do personally to address these challenges?
- Not be racist, Address racist policing practices, Avoid tokening and cookie seeking
- Get together as neighbors
- Promote Block parties
- Be truthful but courteous and aware of others not feeling free to be so truthful
- Bring in the radical Trump supporters
- Create the ground rules for conversations from the start
- Not only do we need to learn to talk to one another – we need to learn how to have civil conversation with the “other” side
- More education about civics among all populations
- How do we invite and engage people of diverse and stark thinkings – but not have their thinking labeled or belittled
- Continue funding ways to reach those not of the chow – creative ways *
- Listen – Ask questions
- Maybe meet our/my neighbors next door at holiday season
- Reach out to folks who support Trump
- Engage marginalized communities in their spaces, Include them as key elements of any planning and execution
- Be a good person, Create friendly interaction with children so they feel safe
- Go to SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), Check in about how you “show up”
What can we as a community do to address the challenges we’ve discussed this evening?
- Provide positive examples of unity
- Continue programming such as this
- Push through discomfort
- Class for adults to learn about all the different religions
- Bring representatives from interfaith communities to public schools to educate and bring awareness & acceptance etc to the students
- A forum for children
- Promote workplace conversations
- CIC needs a “Neighbors Talk” flyer to be circulated by attendees