The SHCC recently hosted a community meeting at Dilworth Elementary in regards to a potential new zone and development of the 21st and 21st corner. The crowd of nearly 300 demonstrated the interest of the community in this issue and left me with many thoughts.
I have lived in Sugar House for 17 years, been active in my community for over a decade and have served on the community council for 6 years. In this time I have come to realize many things. One of the most important in regards to community building is that no one sees things the same, and that is OK. I am less concerned with what people think, but rather that they have access to factual information to base their opinion.
What occurred at this meeting was also an example to me of how passionate we are about where we live. However, that passion can quickly denigrate to name calling, negativity, and aggression, which is not OK.
We talk an awful lot about anti-bullying in our schools as we try to protect our children. For some reason we do not set the same standard of conduct for ourselves as adults. Being a bully is never an appropriate tactic to force people to think the way you want them to. Yet, there was a lot of bullying occurring in that meeting and I ended the night simply walking away from one.
Another thing I have come to learn in my time on the SHCC is that our community is changing. Whether we like it or not. Nothing will stay the same. It is never a good practice to assume everyone thinks the way you do or shares your opinion about those changes. We live in a diverse community. We have diverse ideas, thoughts, and values. However, in the end we are all neighbors.
If community discourse continues along the lines of the Dilworth meeting we will only achieve the polarization of our neighborhoods, which is something I very much do not wish to see. Killing the messenger or making threats to decision makers is not a communication tactic worthy of civil dialogue.
The SHCC was plagued by internal bullying for many years and we have spent the last few working very hard to change the dialogue and rules of discourse for ourselves. I believe it is time for that same level to be demanded for our community meetings.
My pledge as chair for the coming year will be working to ensure everyone has a voice, an understanding of the process, and access to participate. Public meetings will be focused on providing an environment that works to make everyone feel comfortable and safe to speak and participate. This is a shared responsibility and one that requires civility and respect on all sides.