Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin discusses town unity
– Wednesday night I attended the first major event staged by the Paso Robles Diversity Panel. The Town Unity Workshop was held in Bearcat Hall on the Paso Robles High School campus. More than 70 local residents of all ages and walks of life filled discussion tables to share thoughts about our city’s strengths and weaknesses and explore ideas for future activities to promote community unity. I was pleased to join Paso Robles School Superintendent Curt Dubost in welcoming the group and inviting all to listen carefully and non-judgmentally then contribute thoughtfully to the discussion even if that discussion became uncomfortable.
Diversity Panel member Niya Williams invited everyone to write their anticipatory thoughts on an index card and place it in a small envelope. Then she guided the discussion through six questions, pausing periodically to take sample responses from each table. Members of the diversity panel and others moderated each table, taking notes on participants’ comments. At the end of the two hour exercise the room was full of positive energy and attendees were invited to provide contact information for a follow-up report and announcements regarding future events. Participants were invited to take the index cards saved from the beginning of the meeting, turn them over, and comment on what they had experienced during the evening.
In a time and a nation where vocal, abrasive politics have polarized our citizens regarding issues such as racism, sexism, age-ism, able-ism, heterosexism and a whole lot of other “-isms,” the evening provided a welcome safe place where everyone felt free to express community pride and concerns and offer ideas about how to increase mutual respect and unity in the future.
To the members of the diversity panel who planned and staged this event I say “kudos” for a job well done. To everyone who attended I say “thank you” for your honesty, compassion and true love and concern for our city and all of its residents. Go and tell your friends and neighbors about the experience. It’s good news.
Until next we blog, stay informed, stay involved and stay strong Paso Robles.