Too many times we wait until we are upset about something to speak up. When we hear of a “town hall,” we may think it is a time to protest something we don’t approve of. And, indeed, it can serve that purpose, but it is also a time to share our dreams and ideas to make our community even better. Perhaps, even to lead to action that will prevent what would have upset us.
Tomorrow night, all the citizens of Covington are invited to a “Town Hall” meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Covington. The Church is located at 1113 Conyers Street. All are invited to join our Mayor, the City Council, the City Manager and other city officials in a dialogue to discuss ideas concerning our city and her future.
Go to the website of the City of Covington and you will see under the Strategic Plan four focuses. Our leaders want to prepare for tomorrow. They also want to work towards our city being an even safer community. They want to promote small town life and to offer access to the world.
One key to cultivating “small town life” is neighbor listening to neighbor. We are our strongest when we build together. I have lived in both small towns and large urban areas and I find one major difference is the feeling in a smaller town that it is easier to be heard.
Further on the website you will hear a call for transparency. Transparency works two ways. The work and business of our government and its leaders needs to be open to the eyes and ears of the people. But, in turn, we, the people, need to be open to those who would lead us. Communication is essential and it is a two way street. The citizens have to be transparent with those who would lead us. None of our city leaders or officials can read minds.
For the third time this year the citizens of Covington are invited to a Town Hall Meeting with the Mayor, the City Council and the City Manager of Covington. Those who lead our city want to sit for a while with the citizens and discuss whatever issues are on the minds of the people of Covington. There is no set agenda, but an openness to what is on your mind concerning our city.
The first two “town halls” were centered on the two wards as reflected in the structure of our city council. The first was held for the East Ward and the second for the West Ward. But citizens and leaders from both the east and west attended. So, the third Town Hall meeting is city wide, and this is expected to be true of all future such “town hall” undertakings. The issues that face us do not stop at the lines of our wards but reach across our city.
The United Methodist Church is on the line that divides our two wards. This makes it a great location for us to all come together to share and to listen. Every voice is important, but one can only be heard when one is willing to share.
There is a process called synergism. It is what happens when people share their ideas with others. As those who listen respond, the idea becomes greater and stronger. Or a new direction is seen as a better direction. The total is greater than single insight or idea. To work together in this manner is one of the reasons for us to come together.
Another is communication. There is great satisfaction in knowing that those who will eventually make a decision have heard from us. That is one real advantage that local government has over the levels above it. There larger the population, the greater the challenge to be heard.
What is on your mind that you would like to share? Do you have questions or ideas about the impact of growth on Covington? Or perhaps what is the job market like? And how can the City work with business to make that market even stronger?
Maybe you want to know about upcoming community events? What event would you like to see become a tradition?
How can we improve the image of our city? I think of some recent columns I wrote, what do you think about a park for skateboarders? Or a transportation system for those who need that service? Or about all of the new business coming to the square?
Plan to come tomorrow night. Be ready to listen to you neighbors and be willing to share your ideas and concerns. This is not a meeting to make decisions but to open door together to a brighter future.
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.