Friday, April 23, 2010

Spirit of Sustainability SESSION 1

MultiFaith Council of NW Ohio

Thursday, April 22, 2010 This evening session focused on the Earth Charter principle of Economic and Social Justice. The videos were chosen to illustrate personal attitudes necessary to affect change or behavior.

Video Presentations

Michael Shuman authored “The SmallMart Revolution” and uses his expertise as a community developer to promote and sustain local economies. Shuman's "Building Communities" addresses what people can do to rebuild their own communities by establishing and shoping at local businesses and stores. Michael has numerous videos on YouTube and are available for view via the Internet. Shuman spoke at Northwest State Community College on March 10, 2008 and, if interested, his presentations can be viewed by going to the Northwest State Community College's Mediasite webpage, go to page 4 of the site to find the 3/10/2008 events and select his presentations on "Going Local".

Another video used during this session featured the United Nations Millennium Campaign Goal 7. This video was chosen for the examples of personal and community empowerment and effects to neighborhoods. This video features some of the results of community activists and the communities that they serve.

Mrs. Cecily Rohrs
Our live-guest speaker featured Mrs. Cecily Rohrs of Northwest Ohio who provides an example of putting one’s faith into action for the common good. Cecily’s work is about social and economic justice combined with the necessary Faith Components for the improvement of people’s lives. Cecily’s very small non-profit organization – “The Friendship House” and “The Shepard’s Circle” are the vehicles she uses to put her faith into action and community good.

In her presentation, Cecily stressed that individual change happens with one-on-one interaction and that mentoring is a valuable tool to accomplish this. It is her belief that people of faith need to express their beliefs through action. Her personal causes involve local area homelessness and those persons recently released from our prison system.

‘Sometimes people make bad choices and when they do, they need to be shown compassion and given opportunities to make the necessary corrections in their lives.’ Cecily stated that people of faith must do this - never giving up on people. ‘You have to curl up your fingers, provide something that others in need can hang on to because you may be the only thing they have.’

Program Attendee Task Responses

The following are the program participant’s answers to the 3 group discussion questions that followed the presentations.

1.) What things or issues about today’s presentations were most memorable / eye-opening / inspirational?

The connectedness of the causes. The high level of trust and accountability among all organizations. Cecily’s work with sex-offenders and what one person can do to address problems/challenges. A reference to the “Homeless of Wal-Mart”. The idea gained to working on one as opposed to entire community problems – each person taking one task decreasing burn-out of players. The importance of the one-on-one connection especially for those coming out of prison. Importance of mentorship among community members and their development. The value of constantly giving “vision” to all individuals and organizations.

2.) Looking at today’s topic, what do you consider to be the opportunities for our N.W.Ohio locality?

Northwest Ohio has issues of homelessness as well as availability of shelters to serve them. Community gardens that serve local populations. Opportunities exist with our neighbors thinking in small and do-able ways. Opportunities to work within our localities to fix the system promoting the problem. May 3rd will offer an opportunity for Toledo community involvement to address economic inequality at Friendship Baptist Church on Nebraska Ave. Toledo and sponsored by TUSA. “Citizen Circles” is an organization sponsored by the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and helps community members interested in working with and integrating released prisoners in communities. Could the concept of “Citizen Circles” be benchmarked and developed for other similar areas in need of restoration?

3.) What are the programs you would like to see to address those opportunities?

Building multigenerational communities using old motels that provide individual with community space for interaction and meals. Establishing community gardens, use the MultiFaith Council to address the fear of insecurity and fear of otherness. Focus on restoration of all aspects of community. Establish program that would supply mentors on various aspects of life… financial skills (living within means and budgeting, credit card debt). Opportunities exist to change neighborhood zoning laws addressing multi-family housing in economically depressed areas. Programs on how to be “Instruments of Change”. For those recently released from prison, could there be a program that would eliminate prejudices existing in the workplace for both the employer and other employees?

MultiFaith Council of NW Ohio

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