The Divided Community Project Community Resiliency Initiative’s fourth case study highlights the work of the volunteer-based Columbus Community Trust (CCT). The Divided Community Project has had a close relationship with the Trust since its inception in 2015, when DCP leaders began initial conversations by reaching out to local Columbus (Ohio) leaders interested in building community trust and resilience.
Drafted by William Froehlich, DCP Deputy Director, the case study illuminates preparatory steps and considerations for groups interested in convening broad conversations to unite divided communities and address community division, including the following topics:
Engage Diverse Stakeholders
The group began as a coalition of attorneys representing diverse interests in the Columbus community with support from the John Mercer Langston Bar Association (JMLBA) and the Columbus Bar Association (CBA.) However, the group quickly recognized that attorney-based membership could not adequately identify, address, or understand the diverse needs of the community and subsequently build trust. As such, the CCT engaged and recruited a diverse group of civic leaders.
The CCT began its work to transform community division by utilizing a preliminary assessment. The assessment identified three topics: potential local issues that divide the Columbus community, reasons for planning ahead, and issues to consider when convening the right people for the CCT. According to CCT chair Carl Smallwood, the preliminary assessment functioned as an “indispensable road map” that would guide the CCT.
The CCT utilized DCP’s Midland to illuminate guiding themes and focus the Trust’s mission. Key themes included the need to engage in proactive work, intentionally consider how to engage participants who traditionally don’t have a seat at the table, identify gaps in communications, and respond to a stressed community in an effective, unifying tone.
This case study is now available.