Monday, October 08, 2001

Race: Let's talk

By Rosemary Goudreau
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        I'm here to make a pitch for your help, for your involvement.

        I'm writing on behalf of a group of diverse citizens who want to do something to improve race relations in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

        We've created an initiative, called Neighbor to Neighbor, with an audacious goal: holding a solutions-oriented conversation in nearly every neighborhood, village, township and city in the region. Counting the city's 52 neighborhoods, that's about 145 conversations in all.

[photo] The Rev. Edwin Goedicke visits the Northside Child Development Center, which is operated in his church basement, on Friday morning.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        The purpose is to let average citizens be heard on the racial and ethnic tensions that divide us and then answer the question: What should we do?

        Our group, like several others in the city, came together a couple of months ago. Then Sept. 11 happened and things skidded to a halt. Like so many others, we found ourselves in a state of distraction and dread, mixed with depression.

        We asked ourselves, should we give it up? Will people want to focus on race relations with the prospect of war hanging over us? People would certainly understand if we decided that now is not the time. But isn't that the easy thing to do? And hasn't pushing things off to tomorrow contributed to where we are today?

   These are the organizations that have agreed to sponsor the Neighbor to Neighbor initiative:
    • American Marketing Association, Cincinnati Chapter
    • Caracole Inc.
    • Catholic Social Services of Northern Kentucky
    • Children's Defense Fund of Greater Cincinnati
    • Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council
    • The Cincinnati Enquirer
    • Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
    • Cincinnati Media Collaborative
    • Cincinnati Museum Center
    • Cincinnati Recreation Commission
    • Cincinnati.Com
    • Cincinnati/Hamilton County Community Action Agency
    • The Community Press/The Community Recorder
    • Cinergy Corp.
    • Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
    • Firstar Bank
    • The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
    • Health Alliance
    • Leadership Cincinnati Alumni Association
    • Madisonville Education and Assistance Center
    • Media Bridges
    • National Conference for Community and Justice
    • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
    • Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
    • Office of African American Catholic Ministries
    • Su Casa
    • Talbert House
    • United Way & Community Chest of Greater Cincinnati
    • Urban Appalachian Council
    • Urban League of Greater Cincinnati
    • WCIN
    • WGUC-FM
    • WLW 700/ClearChannel Cincinnati
    • WNKU-FM
    • YWCA of Greater Cincinnati
    If your organization would like to be a sponsor, please visit us at
    The following media organizations are members of the Cincinnati Media Collaborative:
    • The Cincinnati Enquirer
    • The Cincinnati Post
    • Cincinnati.Com
    • Channel 48/WCET
    • Cincinnati Magazine
    • CitiCable
    • CityBeat
    • Clear Channel Radio
    • Infinity Broadcasting
    • Integrity Development Inc.
    • J4 Broadcasting/WCIN
    • Media Bridges
    • The Business Courier
    • The Cincinnati Herald
    • The Community Press, Inc.
    • Time Warner Cable
    • WCPO-TV 9
    • WGUC 90.9 FM
    • WIZF/WDBZ Radio One
    • WKRC-TV 12
    • WLWT-TV 5
    • WNKU-FM
    • WSTR-TV 64
    • WVXU 91.7 FM
    • WXIX-FOX19
Race-related news coverage
        After the attack, people across the region were lining up to give blood, money and time — wanting to do something to help their fellow man, no matter what color or creed. We decided to continue our effort and help provide focus for people who want to do something.

        And so here's the pitch.

        We would like you to host a conversation, attend a conversation or agree to be trained to facilitate a conversation. The training will be led by Professor Dave Patton of Ohio State University's Civic Life Institute and Chip Harrod, executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice in Cincinnati.

        The conversation model allows people to get their stories and opinions on the table, but it doesn't stop there.

        It poses three possible approaches for action. As you deliberate each path, you find yourself liking parts of each and grappling with trade-offs you might not have considered. It surfaces areas where diverse people can agree and what should be done as individuals, neighborhoods, businesses or governments.

        It may inspire you to get involved, if you choose.

        The model, developed by the National Issues Forums, is based on research funded by the Kettering Foundation. The non-profit research institute outside Dayton, Ohio, is dedicated to helping citizens solve public problems and making democracy work better.

        Local citizens associated with Kettering came together, at the invitation of The Cincinnati Enquirer, to create this initiative. Since then, a number of businesses and organizations have signed on as sponsors. Now, we extend an invitation to you.

        We're committed to keeping the initiative alive at least a year, perhaps 18 months, depending on how much energy and interest it generates. In other communities, similar initiatives on public policy issues have resulted in action at a personal level and a community level. Some have spurred grass-roots groups that continue to meet and act today.

        If you're interested in participating, please register online. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, you may also call David Hofmeister at (513) 755-4145.

        Thank you for your consideration.

       Rosemary Goudreau is managing editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer. She may be reached at 513-768-8311 or at