Read about important Crossroads Charlotte events, information and activities.
PHOTOS BY JAMES WILLAMOR
This is what 'Getting Real' looks like: About 15 men, and three women, firing up the temperamental gym lighting in the fraternity hall, pulling the groaning metal folding chairs together, plopping wieners on white bread and Doritos on Styrofoam saucers. They’re talking about difficulties in the community, and money, and who’s got it, and who doesn’t, and what we can all do about it.
The arts are nice, says Art Jackson, “but we’re looking for basic needs. And public safety is number one, because if you can’t walk the streets, you can’t enjoy any of these other things. And jobs.”
“We’ve still got a lot of money and resources,” says Horatius Greene. “What we don’t have is good cooperation or fairness.”
“Pre-K education,” says Michel Vaughan, “is really, really critical.”
It was the evening of Feb. 24, and alumni members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and Delta Sigma Theta sorority – two historically African-American Greek organizations – had come together at the Kappa house on Beatties Ford Road for a Get Real 2011 small group workshop.
This was a strange kind of dialogue, one that began with about 45 minutes of dead silence.
The site was Discovery Place, specifically an exhibit titled “RACE: Are We So Different?” On the late morning of Feb. 24, 14 clergy from an assortment of Charlotte-area churches viewed the exhibit at the request of Crossroads Charlotte and Mecklenburg Ministries, then took part in a facilitated discussion of the exhibit and its relevance in their lives and ministries.
All 14 ministers have signed up for Xchange Sermons, the annual area-wide pulpit swap Crossroads and MeckMin co-sponsor to unite congregations of differing faiths and denominations. Their tour and discussion of the RACE exhibit was part of a related program called RACE Exchanges, in which groups can explore the exhibit, then afterward their thoughts and emotions through discussion.
To start, facilitator Joan Hope urged the group members not to talk as they made their way through the exhibit; she said it was a time for reflection. They could talk later. That they did.
Launching a nonprofit organization, or any community project, can be a daunting task -- especially if you're doing it alone. Fortunately for Front Porch Grant recipients, a support group is included with their funding.
Front Porch Grants are funded by the Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC). According to their Crossroads Charlotte group page, "Front Porch Grantees have received funding from FFTC to launch an event, a project, or series of gatherings intended to build bridges between people who otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to get to know each other. The idea is, if people know each other, then stereotyping, racial biases, and dislike ends."
The 28 recipients of the 2010-2011 Front Porch Grants gather occasionally for "learning community" opportunities. In fact, doing so is one of the conditions of their grant funding.
So there’s this thing you may have heard of called The Moth in New York, and it’s a nonprofit that hosts these events where people get up before a crowd with no notes and just tell stories drawn from their own lives on a given theme.
It started 14 years ago and has turned into this huge, very successful, very hip thing, and Crystal--you know Crystal, right, From the Hip Communications, edits this blog, Twitter royalty?--decided she wanted to start something like it for Charlotte, through Crossroads Charlotte. Being an essentially Charlottean event, there was really only one choice for a name: The Cankerworm.
So: Central Coffee Co., a Tuesday night. Little bitty place. Folks packed it. The assignment: Tell a five-minute story on the theme of “trust,” no notes, no mic. Ten people, all but one of whom had been invited, stepped up to the … absence of a mic. All kinds of people--men, women, white, black--with stories as diverse as they are.
The stories were too great, and too rich, to fully convey in a blog post, but I’ll try to give you some of the flavor. If you still feel you’re missing out, you’ll just have to come to the next one. (Crystal has no firm plans for a next one, but she asked everybody at the end, “What do you think, guys? Should we do this again?,” and people went nuts, so you can probably count on there being a next one.)
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