Lakewood, like most major metro areas in the nation, has diverse populations, generations and socioeconomic sub categories all living together in the same community. These differences can divide or they can serve as a platform for civil dialogue. Left to our own devices human beings divide. “Together” isn’t natural for many reasons, so there will always be a need for leadership in building a clear, positive and accurate picture of “togetherness” and with it a road map for how to get there.
It makes sense that “together” is led by a group. In Lakewood a new group has formed with the task of helping bridge the divides in our community, that group is called Lakewood Forward. Lakewood Forward states its aim as: “Lakewood Forward informs, inspires, activates, and strengthens our community. We embrace change and innovation while respecting our heritage. We elevate ideas and solutions that will outlast institutions and government cycles.”
What does that mean, and what does that look like in action? Lakewood Forward recently hosted a Symposium at the local Elks club hosting 100 folks from the community. The Symposium was aimed at “Facts not Fear”, and this was accomplished by hosting three local experts from the areas of Education, Transportation and Housing to talk about the specific needs, opportunities, plans and challenges in their areas.
Suffice to say each presenter had great thoughts, pertinent information, and solid facts about their topic, and the audience questions were delivered and answered with dignity and respect. Lakewood Forward has intentionally invited audience members with diverse and opposing opinions on the topics. The goal of the Symposium was to walk away friends in disagreement who were informed and capable of sharing accurate information with others.
Here’s the key insight: “Cities are never the same… they can become better or they can become worse!” Former Mayor Steve Burkholder opened with this reflection, and it is a critical truth. Change is a constant. To become successful in leading a city towards “better” we must have accurate information, civil discourse, and the willingness to work with others with whom we disagree. “Better” is only possible when we treat each other with dignity and commit to looking forward!
It is an honor to serve on the board with Lakewood Forward and bring with me the goodwill and “sleeves rolled up and ready to help” attitude of over 30 churches and faith communities! Together we can and so together we must, because our future and everything we value depends on it!