Community conversations on drugs, safety, financial stability taking place

Conversations about important issues facing the community are taking place, and Jackson County United Way is looking for more people to get involved.

There have been nearly 20 facilitated discussions in the last three months with another 10 planned over the next few weeks.

The next community conversation is from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. Thursday at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour. The discussion will focus on making the community safe and drug-free.

The small group settings are perfect for finding out what people really think when it comes to the community, said Tonja Couch, United Way executive director.

The conversations are led by volunteers and structured to ask specific questions to learn more about what residents value and their thoughts on the future of Jackson County, Couch said.

“Each conversation is a better chance for us to understand people’s aspirations, concerns and what actions they believe might make a difference in strengthening the community,” she said.

“We want to know what you are thinking since this is your county,” Couch said. “We don’t want to make assumptions as to what the right thing to do is, and we aren’t trying to create any quick fixes.”

Dr. Nate Otte, chairman of the United Way board, said it’s important to listen to citizens before making decisions or changes that impact them.

“An integral part of the work we do at United Way is turning outward and listening to the community,” he said.

Each meeting consists of 10 to 12 people having a “kitchen table” type conversation, he said.

“It allows participants to speak honestly and freely about how they feel about the community,” he said. “We discuss both aspirations and challenges and also discuss actions we think would make a difference.”

Library director Julia Aker said the conversations allow for quality and depth of conversation instead of just using numbers to drive change.

Another conversation on financial stability will be from 2 to 4 p.m. July 13 at the library.

Those interested in voicing their opinions and concerns and offering ideas must register online at myjclibrary.org/events or call 812-522-3412.

Any individual or group willing to serve as host for a community conversation can contact Couch at 812-522-5450 or tonja@jacsy.org.

“We are interested in convening members of faith-based and non-profit organizations, as well as clubs, service groups and county employers,” Couch said.

If you go

The next community conversation is from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. Thursday at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour.

The discussion will focus on making the community safe and drug-free.

Another conversation on financial stability will be from 2 to 4 p.m. July 13 at the library.

Those interested in voicing their opinions and concerns and offering ideas must register online at myjclibrary.org/events or call 812-522-3412.

Any individual or group willing to serve as host for a community conversation can contact Couch at 812-522-5450 or tonja@jacsy.org.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.