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Community Engagement Network - Listening Session

Last night MSD of Warren Township hosted a pilot meeting for the Community Engagement Network, a Community Listening Session.

The meeting's objective involved bringing together members of the Community, addressing issues regarding the city.

Our intentions were not to have a "Town Hall," where Officials are seated at a table, taking questions from the Community. We always have the option to hear from Politicians; this was an opportunity to bring new voices to the table and let their voices heard.

A prominent take away from last night's meeting is the Community does not feel like they can make a difference; people feel as if Public Officials are going to do what they want to do. As an elected official, my job is to be a middle man; I represent the citizens of District 18. My goal is to exhibit the qualities of a listener and act as a representative of the district.

Something else came up multiple times at the meeting, the desire to help but not knowing how to help. I was happy to see people connecting with people; I witnessed two people follow up with community organizations to help make a difference in the Community.

Another example of people helping people was when a man brought up his concern about homeowner's associations. He needed help understanding more detail around what happens in particular situations; it just so happened that there was someone in the crowd that evening that had the knowledge and experience to help.

There was a situation of disagreement that turned out to be a very healthy disagreement. Two men who are very passionate about IndyGo Mass Transit disagreed during the group discussion portion of the event. What was incredible, seeing both men having a civil one on one conversation after the conclusion of the program.

One of the most critical topics of discussion was the communication of violence in our city. Multiple participants discuss how law enforcement backed organizations don't do much to help, and we, as a community, need to look towards community solutions. "We need to get to people before they crack up and do stuff, putting family at the top of the motto of support. Specifically, find the people who "fly under the radar." Target mental illness. Don't be afraid to talk to your neighbor, ride the bus, and ask someone how they are doing. Every single person counts.

We had conversations when it comes to the schools, that's where youths spend most of their day; we need to meet them where they are. We need to reach out to our young people; they are our future. How do we transfer their use of technology into a positive? Someone suggested bringing skills to the schools if you have something to share, teach the youths what you know.

It is difficult to elaborate on the range of discussion we had at the Community Listening Session. Ultimately everyone was reluctant to markdown if hey had anything to say when they arrived. By the time the conversation was going, we had run out of time before getting to everyone. This discussion was an excellent start for the Community Engagement Network. We are going to work on another session that specifically targets teens and young adults, allow them to share their opinions with the Community.

Special Thanks to the following individuals for helping make the night a success:

Dr. Tim Hanson: Superintendent of Schools MSD of Warren Township

Dee Ross: Founder and Chief Executive Officer at The Ross Foundation

Gregory Meriweather: Community Strategic Initiatives Liason for IMPD

Whitley Yates: Director of Diversity Engagement for Indiana GOP

The Indianapolis Community

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