Columbia, MO "Let's Talk, Columbia!"
Status: Overall program launched in 2000
"LET'S TALK, COLUMBIA!" is an opportunity for citizen involvement in dialogues on diversity. The Commission's goal is that through personal interaction, understanding is fostered and relationships are strengthened, creating a greater community-wide appreciation for human diversity.
Since the program's inception in June 2000, more than 530 persons from throughout our community have participated in study circles on diversity, race and community. Over 91% of participants surveyed have reported that their understanding of of other's attitudes and beliefs had increased as a result of their participation in the dialogue sessions. Personal comments from the experience included the following:
"Hearing the experiences of participants in my circle opened my mind to think of 'others' no as 'others' anymore, but as people just like me in many ways."
"Most of the time you hear about people in other groups, but you don't have an opportunity to associate a person or face with that group. This is a window of opportunity."
"I am now more interested in opening my eyes, ears, and senses to the thoughts, feelings and concerns of others in the community."
"Mind-altering! My ability to participate in true dialogue was enhanced. The facilitators were very, very effective, and gave the group different perspectives to consider besides our own."
"It is a powerful and well-designed weekend of dialogue! It is a very short time for building a trusting community but amazingly, the circles work!"
"To strengthen community relationships by engaging citizens in dialogues on diversity."
"People from all walks of life in Columbia hear, appreciate, understand, respect and trust each other in an inclusive community that celebrates the oneness of humanity.”
What is a Study Circle? A group of 7-10 people from diverse backgrounds who meet for several sessions to openly and respectfully discuss an issue. Participants share and hear different personal perspectives. The group creates new connections and explores common ground for addressing community issues.
Trained volunteers provide impartial facilitation to keep the group focused and to consider a variety of views.