The Crossroads scenarios were written in 2003 by a volunteer group of 21 community leaders through a process funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and facilitated by the Community Building Initiative under the auspices of Foundation For The Carolinas. The scenarios were written in response to a core question: What course will Charlotte-Mecklenburg chart for all its residents over the next ten years as we deal with issues of access, equity, inclusion and trust in the social, political, economic and cultural life of the community?
The Crossroads Charlotte story began in 2001 when Charlotte was one of 40 communities that participated in Harvard Professor Robert Putnam’s Social Capital Benchmark Survey.
The data from the survey revealed that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community has high levels of faith-based involvement and philanthropy. But the bad news was that out of 40 communities, Charlotte ranked next to last in levels of social and interracial trust. This was particularly alarming for a new south city that has struggled for decades with Black and White issues, and now finds itself growing rapidly more diverse, with an exponential rise in Latino and Asian populations.
The Social Capital survey presented a disconcerting juxtaposition: While Charlotte is heavily engaged in faith-based giving and volunteerism, at the same time, the survey revealed that our generous residents are distrustful and intolerant of people unlike themselves.
In response to this data, Foundation For The Carolinas convened a diverse group of about 20 community leaders and advocates of civic health (listed as the Crossroads Charlotte Steering Committee on this site) to grapple with the root causes of distrust, especially between people of different races and ethnicities.
The Committee determined that trust in the community is a direct outcome of how residents find that institutions, systems and resources are either inaccessible to them or accessible, exclusive or inclusive, equitable or unjust. "Access, equity and inclusion" became the mantra of the Steering Committee. The Committee struggled to find a different way to talk about these issues--a way that people could understand and that would be powerful. The idea of using stories that paint pictures of what kind of community residents will have in the future emerged as a tool to discuss these issues.
Scenario planning was chosen as an appropriate tool to examine local data, analyze trends, make projections and forecast the conditions and issues the community might experience in a decade. A consulting team was engaged to help develop plausible scenarios which emerged as the four Crossroads Charlotte stories. To help develop the scenarios, a core question was developed that the stories were meant to address. The question is:
"What course will Charlotte-Mecklenburg chart for all its residents over the next ten years as we deal with issues of access, equity, inclusion and trust in the social, political, economic and cultural life of the community."
In order to write the basic outlines of each story, key influences that would have the most impact on the future of the community were identified. These influences are called driving forces, and they are:
- demographic changes
- the economy
- growth and land use
- community resource allocation
- leadership and civic engagement
The only constant force across the scenarios is the projection of Charlotte's demographic makeup in 2015, which will mark a shift as the percentage of non-white minorities grows to be nearly at parity with the white population.
In 2005, Crossroads Charlotte was launched to present the stories to the community and provide the community an opportunity to HEAR and RESPOND to the stories. What has happened since then? Read about the Impact of Crossroads Charlotte.