'Heights Conversations' continue virtually
In spring 2020, a group of nonprofit and public-facing organizations, led by Heights Community Congress (HCC), planned to host conversations in which diverse groups of Heights residents would come together around a shared meal to have conversations centered around race to raise awareness and build community. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, thwarted those plans.
As the year wore on, it became apparent to group leaders that discussions about race were more urgent and necessary than ever, and they sought a way to move forward, with participant safety as a top priority. At 3 p.m., on Sunday, Nov. 15, the group will host “Heights Conversations: Let’s Talk About Race,” virtually.
Organizers are seeking community members to participate as facilitators and participants. The conversations will be held via Zoom, in small groups, using the breakout-rooms feature. In each breakout room, two trained facilitators, and up to 10 participants, will meet for a guided conversation.
Several community groups are coordinating the conversations: HCC, FutureHeights, Reaching Heights, Heights Libraries, Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, Home Repair Resource Center, and Compass Consulting.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of our communities’ challenges with race, racism and equity, and begin generating ideas for positive change while building community,” said Eric Dillenbeck, executive director of HCC, the lead organizer of the event. “We recognize a need to come together to explore issues of race and equity, discrimination, gentrification, poverty and political division. We hope that exploring our community through the lens of race, and gathering, even virtually, will help build community and create an opportunity for learning about different perspectives and how to better support one another.”
Anyone who lives, works, worships, or plays in Cleveland Heights or University Heights is welcome to participate as a facilitator or guest.
Facilitators must attend one of two training sessions, which will take place virtuallyon Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 10, from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m.
For more information, and to register to be a facilitator or participant, visit www.heightscongress.org or call 216-321-6775.
Founded in 1972, HCC is an advocate of social justice, a monitor of fair-housing practices, and a facilitator for building strong, diverse communities. Among its goals are generating inclusive communities and neighborhoods; instilling a sense of community spirit and involvement among residents of all races, religions, cultures, ages, ethnic heritages, and socioeconomic levels; and encouraging active involvement of community residents in the identification and solution of issues of mutual concern.
Sruti Basu is the director of community-building programs at FutureHeights.