Monday, November 12, 2001

First meeting on race yields plans


Dialogue needed, participants say

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The first Neighbor to Neighbor conversation on race yielded several plans for addressing problems in Cincinnati and its suburbs.

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Tiffany Taylor (right) and Christine Shimrock (center) listen during the first Neighbor to Neighbor gathering.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |

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        The group of about 20 participants came up with several recommendations that could be implemented by community leaders, including using church resources to help eliminate urban blight, developing more ways to invest in minority-owned businesses and developing more workforce programs to help curb unem ployment.

        “Anything we can do to help people reach agreement between themselves and find solutions to problems is valuable,” said Wilhelmina Pimkremer, who helped organize Sunday's gathering.

        It was the first of nearly 100 Neighbor to Neighbor conversations scheduled to take place through mid-December. The initiative has been endorsed by dozens of community organizations, churches and corporations, as well as the Cincinnati Media Collaborative.

        But several participants — most of whom are white and are of retirement age — expressed disappointment that there wasn't a larger, more diverse turnout at the session, which was held at John Wesley United Methodist Church in Colerain Township.

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        Apathy is one of the biggest factors hindering the improvement of race relations in the Tristate, said Burton Crosby of Springfield Township.

        “It just shows that the community isn't all that interested, and that's sad to say,” the 75-year-old retired Methodist minister said. “People don't want to take responsibility for what's going on. They'd rather step back and say, "It's not my problem.'”

        Those who did gather for the two-hour session agreed that dialogue is the first step toward developing concrete solutions to racial problems.

        And they took a second step by endorsing several approaches they could take individually to address racial problems, including becoming more active in neighborhood groups to bring communities closer together, working through the church to bring diverse groups together and continuing to participate in Neighbor to Neighbor discussions.

        Mel Williams, 65, of Colerain Township advised the participants in Sunday's session not to “sugar-coat” the issues if they expected to effect real change.

        In his opinion, the answer to most racial problems lies in ensuring equal treatment for everyone, especially in corporate America and the justice system.

        “We have to start treating people as equals as soon as they walk in the door, regardless of what they look like,” Mr. Williams said. “It's not a matter of how we feel about each other, it's a matter of how we treat each other.”

        Mr. Crosby, the retired minister, suggested that while dialogue is necessary for change, so is patience.

        “It's going to take time to change things, because there are always going to be pockets of great resistence,” he said.

        Here is a schedule of the conversations that will take place this week. Call the host to confirm your seat. Conversations are limited to 25 people.

        • 3 p.m. Thursday, Northern Kentucky University, Honors House, Nunn Drive. Cheryl Nunez, (859) 572-6388.

        • 7 p.m. Thursday, Deer Park-Silverton Fire Department, 7050 Blue Ash Road. Sandy Faith Hall, 891-7468.

        • 7 p.m. Thursday, home of Mike Garfunkel, Amberley Village, 762-8023.

        • 7 p.m. Thursday, Health Alliance Business Center, 3200 Burnet Ave., Avondale, Tonya Huggins, 585-8722.

        • 3 p.m. Friday, University of Cincinnati African-American Cultural and Resource Center. Leah Stewart, 556-3506.

        • 7 p.m. Friday, Kenton County Public Library, 502 Scott Blvd., Covington. Gary Pilkington, (859) 491-7610.

        • 7 p.m. Friday, Community of Holy Cross recreation hall, 3612 Church St., Covington. Pat Woods, 859-431-0636.

        • 12:30 p.m. Saturday, home of Patti Minniear, Hyde Park. 321-0436.

       



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