Read about important Crossroads Charlotte events, information and activities.
Travel, whether to another city, another region, or another country, often provides insight into other cultures and our own. This is an occasional series on what we can learn when we go somewhere else.
The first letter dated Aug. 2, 1989, arrived when I was 15, and it is difficult to believe how many years have passed. For Thomas and me, it was the start of a conversation that spans more than two decades and two continents.
We connected through the International Friendship League, an organization “dedicated to promoting peace and better world understanding” among members.
I’d had other pen pals from around the world, including Australia, France, Japan, Malta and Nepal. Some lived in the United States, like curly-haired Katie near Utica, New York, a talented artist I envied for having an identical twin sister.
Most of the letters, postcards, photos and keepsakes, like the friendships themselves, are long gone, a casualty of the fickleness of youth and geographic distance. One, however, continues to leave its stamp on me.
Stories that caught our eye in the past week:
1. The city of Charlotte is on display this week as city leaders show Democratic Party officials around town. Charlotte is a finalist for the next Democratic Party National Convention.
2. Criminals on death row are more likely to receive such a sentence for killing a white person than a black person says a new study. North Carolina has one of the highest death rows in the country and its racial bias is real.
3. Though it appears to be safe, a former veneer company has been illegally dumping toxic waste products onto the factory site, which the city of Indian Trail has considered for a future recreational park.
It’s a warm weekday evening and hundreds of young adults are gathered outside in uptown Charlotte. They’re talking and mingling, while a DJ plays a cool blend of music. It sounds a lot like the popular Alive After Five series that takes place Thursdays at the EpiCentre. But this is July 20, a Tuesday. And these young people have gathered to not only be entertained, but also be inspired. This is CharlotteONE.
Four years ago, several local churches started a four-week trial program to see if they could be more effective in reaching young adults and singles. The weekly program was a success; CharlotteONE was born.
Led by founder and Executive Director David Hickman, the group is now supported by nearly 40 local churches. CharlotteONE holds its sessions each Tuesday at 7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church Uptown, except during the summer, meeting just one Tuesday of the month.
The morning was hot, blistering hot, as Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman and other public officials trudged up North Tryon Street toward the Urban Ministry Center.
Dozens of Charlotte’s homeless make the same walk every day, rain or shine, warm or cold, to get lunch at the center’s soup kitchen. That’s what Mecklenburg Ministries wanted the elected officials to experience.
The interfaith nonprofit hosted “In Their Shoes,” the latest in a continuing series of programs designed to give the privileged in town a chance to see up close what the homeless endure every day. Mecklenburg Ministries hosted one for corporate executives on a chilly, rainy day in November, and afterward the executives said they thought elected officials should go through the same experience, said Maria Hanlin, MeckMin’s executive director.
So a handful took Hanlin up on it; those taking the walk besides Foxx, Roberts and Gorman were Charlotte City Councilwoman Nancy Carter; County Commissioner Harold Cogdell Jr.; and school board Vice Chair Tom Tate.
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