Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Connected in a Way

Frostburg State University in Partnership with Sustaining Campus & Community

            On March 26, 2013, Frostburg State University in partnership with Sustaining Campus and Community held their second dialogue series session at the Lyric Theater located at 20 E Main Street in Frostburg, Maryland. This session described the ground rules of discussing a variety of issues in the community and guests talked about their personal experiences of helping the community.

            Coming through the doors of the event, on the left side, there was a table with a sign-up sheet, brochures of Communications Studies at Frostburg State University, pens, markers, blank sticker name tags, and handbooks of Frostburg State University history and Frostburg documentations of 2012. Working at the table was Frostburg State University senior Rashya Jones, “The Sustaining Campus and Community Dialogue Series seems to be a great way for local residents, students and faculty/staff to connect, find common ground and collaborate for the better of FSU and the city of Frostburg. Great projects are under works!” she said. Also, along the left side there were tables with water, iced tea, sandwiches, soup, and a variety of small rectangular cut cakes for everyone to enjoy. The audience sat at round tables, sitting up to eight persons comfortably, while eating and listening to the speakers. A stage with five chairs and a microphone stand with a brick wall as the background is where the speakers spoke.

Guest speaker Dr. Marvin Johnson, founder and executive director of the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, began the event by discussing the ground rules. At the community meetings a person has to have an open mind and focus on listening. Have a conversation and not a debate, because if there is more of a debate not many people will want to share their ideas out loud. Be respectful and promote equal participation, even if someone has not participated ask them ‘what do they think?’ so that everyone can be part of the conversation.  Facilitators have the job of keeping the conversation on track and having fun with the conversations so that everyone can have a good time. Lastly, closer to the end of the meeting you will seek solutions and common ground after looking over the ideas that was written down on a flip board. Dr. Johnson connects the ground rules to discussing common interests such as living in the same locale, building relationships, and race relations. “We are all connected, not just a community living together but a community having common interest.” Dr. Johnson concluded. After applauding for Dr. Johnson, Frostburg State University senior Safiyq Hinton comments, “This a great opportunity for students to interact with long term residents and bridge our differences.”

After guest speaker Dr. Johnson discussed the ground rules, other guest speakers shared their giving to the community. Reverend Tim Smith, Pastor of Frostburg Church of the Nazarene, and his church ministries are involved in child sponsorship, children school packs, school and after school programs, water projects, hospitals, health care clinics, HIV and AIDS, microeconomics projects, and the Nazarene disaster relief providing crisis care kits. Pastor Everett Spence from God’s Ark of Safety initiated the Frostburg food bank program and have children day care. Pastor Spence and his church are planning to have another children’s day care in Frostburg, open up healing rooms, and a recovery program.  President of Neighborhood Friends Care, Ken Fisher, works with in town churches and Frostburg State University student volunteers to help people in the Frostburg community with such things as snow shoveling, leaf raking, cleaning gutters, repair handicap ramps, painting, and clean closets.

Having to come together as a community, meeting to discuss issues, and following the ground rules will surely make a difference in the community. An event like this is a great way for everyone in the community to join so that more ideas can be recognized and discussed. Kendra Emery, Frostburg State University student, agrees and also added “I think the dialogues are a great way to combine the community and students.” Help experience a great future for Frostburg and get involved.

-LaVonne Sauls

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