Community conversation acts as safe space for open dialogue

Updated: May. 6, 2017 at 11:39 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The power of conversation and honest dialogue is being used as a pathway to positive change in Baton Rouge and it's starting at a round table full of strangers.

"When I think about love, I think about a table," said Pastor Donnie Wilkinson of Broadmoor United Methodist Church.

Broadmoor United Methodist Church hosted a community conversation, as a place where people with varied social and economic backgrounds could express their concerns in a non-judgmental environment and figure out how issues can be remedied.

"There's an incredible amount of mistrust in our community and our country now. By building relationships through conversation, we create the capacity for positive change," Wilkinson said.

And it's the response to three simple questions, where the hope lies as the beginning of transformation.

Question one: How are you feeling? Question two: What do you long for in our community?

Gerald Collins says he hopes to see a community that interchanges ideas, talks about pain openly, and is invested in alleviating pain and suffering.

And question three: As your bravest self, what do you do next?

"Get over the fear factor and just be willing to talk to anybody." Dan Hill said.

"What we we're really able to get across was first educating yourself on the problem, the nature of the problem, and second, just doing whatever you can to influence the people around you," Collins said.

Sue Catchings says in this open dialogue she found ways to help influence change.

"I want to be apart of the conversation but two because I think all of our voices need to be apart of the solution and not apart of the problem," she said.

This is first of hopefully many community talks that will result in a new bridge to diversity.

"Change begins with you. Everybody is useful, everybody has gifts or talents that they can contribute to the movement and to help alleviate the pain that they have and that other people have," Collins said.

Wilkinson says they're on a mission to create a "beloved community," but they need the help of the community to make it happen.

"Jewish philosopher Martin Buber said that when two people relate to each other humanely and authentically, the energy that surges between them is the divine and that's what we're hoping to create," Wilkinson said.

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