Jamall Kinard, Lakewood
How has working together with neighborhood leaders from across the City positively influence your own ability to serve your home community?
Working together with neighborhood leaders in Stitch from across the City has helped me with understanding and educating my community on the full scope of the challenges that we are dealing with in the greater community of Charlotte. Plain and simple, there is no way that we can help each other if there is a system in place that thrives off of us staying in our own bubbles and only being concerned about ourselves. We have to Engage with EACH OTHER, so that we can Educate EACH OTHER, so that we can Empower EACH OTHER. We (Lakewood Neighborhood Alliance) are currently implementing our Three Year 3E Strategic Plan (Engage, Educate, Empower).
Has your participation in Stitch Together CLT broken down any misconceptions you had about other parts of Charlotte or other communities?
No, it has actually reinforced the misconceptions about the parts of Charlotte! What it has done is assisted in breaking down misconceptions about the PEOPLE that live in the different parts of Charlotte. We all want the same thing! We just don't have enough time to realize it, because this "system" keeps us on the hamster wheel and pushes out false narrative and images in the media that we hold onto as truth. We need to get our facts about each other from the same source that is grounded in truth. Stitch helped us express our "Truths" with people we would've never gotten the opportunity to. That the power of creating Community!
Have you developed a relationship with any other leaders on the Stitch Together CLT Steering Committee or other influencers?
There are two very important things that I value most about Stitch Together CLT:
First, the fact that the City of Charlotte created a safe space for 10 neighborhood leaders to have the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation about the causes of the challenges we face in Charlotte. Respectfully, with no holds barred! That was key to being able to get to where we are today with the Stitch Program! Without that time on March 10th where we just let it all out on the table, we would've never known the true thoughts/feelings of each leader that participated. Yes, it took a good amount time, yes, somethings made people uncomfortable, but those are the types of conversations that need to be had in order for us to create a more equitable community for all.
Second, developing relationships with people from all walks of life, understanding the "why" behind what they do, hearing about the challenges they are facing in their neighborhoods, and what they are doing in order to find solutions to what has caused the challenges. "Focusing totally on issues is treating the symptoms while ignoring the cause." We must get to a point in life where we stop blaming the fish and start asking what is wrong with the lake! Step 1 – have the meaningful conversation WITH those directly affected by the challengesStep 2 – create a plan WITH those same individualsStep 3 – implement/execute the plan (WITH those individuals, not for them) Step 4 – monitor and adjust (WITH them)Step 5 – evaluate (WITH them)Step 6 – sustain (WITH them)These are the steps of people that are committed to being DOERS and solvers of the CAUSES of the challenges! I am glad that Stitch allowed me the opportunity to develop relationships with DOERS and the PEOPLE they are working WITH to find solutions to the CAUSES of the challenges! We must work as a network of peers/neighbors where we are all consider leaders to solve the CAUSES of the challenges we face, instead of a "chain of command system" where we answer to one leader (or a group of leaders) who we think knows best because they make more money or considered to be in a higher economic class than the rest of us. This the broken system that is leading to our demise!