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Can We Talk?

Listening, Exchanging, Responding

As a result of the upheaval that took place in 2008 around the appointment of a new Mecklenburg County Sheriff, Community Building Initiative (CBI), the Community Relations Committee (CRC) and Mecklenburg Ministries released a joint statement – an open letter to the community – called “Salting the Roads” to encourage community residents to dig deep, reflect, and connect with one another to examine why appointing a new sheriff was such a divisive issue for this community.

The three organizations also partnered on a series of community discussions about “what’s in the ground” in Charlotte-Mecklenburg related to race and ethnicity – and “Can We Talk?”was born. The first session took place on April 1, 2008 with a panel of leaders from the faith community. A second session on the role and position of the media was held on June 18, followed by a conversation with a panel of elected officials called “Can We Talk to Each Other After the Election?” in November.

Charlotte's own WMD - Weapons of Mass Discussion - Willie Ratchford, Maria Hanlin & Dianne English

Building on the success of these conversations in 2008, CBI, CRC and Mecklenburg Ministries continued to organize Can We Talk? events and invite residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg to continue the conversation – both within their comfort zone and across difference – about what’s in the ground in our community that creates mistrust. They invited people to come together to raise awareness and build understanding when divisive or difficult situations arise.

Can We Talk? panelists typically include content specialists, organizational leaders, elected officials, newspaper editors, school board members, congregational leaders and others. Moderators lead a brief discussion with the panelists, and then attendees break into groups to hold their own discussions and pose questions for the panel.

To date, approximately 2,500 people from throughout the community have participated in a Can We Talk? session.

So, “Can We Talk” with you? Upcoming events will be posted here on the CBI website. If you’d like to participate in an upcoming community dialogue, please follow the RSVP instructions that will be posted.