A group of community members met on Monday evening at Whoop-ti-doos for a series of conversations that revolved around the theme of common decency.
Kathy Getting, Power Up YOUth coordinator, helped to host the Community Cafe event because she had seen the format work previously as a good way to generate ideas about improving a community. She said events like this are an antidote to polarization in society, which is a negative element that can be seen in personal conversations to online postings.
The Community Cafe asked participants a series of questions. The first was, “What is the individual’s responsibility to build fundamental decency in their community?” Getting said that when she asked her son that question, he mentioned that he had been made fun of before in Fort Dodge when he waved to a person he knew in a passing car on the street.
“I think fundamental decency is about connecting to other people, and it’s something that anybody can do. It’s about sharing a part of you with someone else for the benefit of others,” Getting said.
Other question asked was “What common decency have you experienced or know about that could give hope for our community?” Craig Blaufuss, pastor at First Congregational UCC, said that the Enhance Hamilton County Foundations recent grant awards ceremony were a good example of making those connections between people and working to better the community.
“It’s certainly one way, empowering and giving money to organizations in the community, that is trying to make a positive difference in the community,” Blaufuss said.
The final question asked to participants was “What can individuals do that can build fundamental decency in our community?” Speaking on interactions between people, Michelle Walters said that listening to what people say is not enough. She said hearing and comprehending what people are saying is very important in personal interactions. The group discussed how the medium of social media can cause polarization when broad statements are made and no attempt at reaching common ground is made.
As the Community Cafe neared its closing, Getting asked participants to write down on a sticky note what they would do in the coming weeks to try and build their own sense of common decency. Ideas such as joining with others, helping address community needs, resisting judgement of others and more were discussed.
While the Community Cafe drew many ideas from its participants, there was only a group of four people on hand to discuss those ideas. Getting said that she would consider holding another Community Cafe in the future to try and bring more ideas to the table.