The Let’s Talk Columbia Event was held this past Friday and Saturday at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
More than 100 people attended the first night, and about 50 attended the second night.
Although attendance was high, some in the community had opinions about improving their community, but didn’t attend the event – either because they were uninterested, or didn’t have time.
Here are what some Columbia residents had to say about their city.
Gus Santos (52) is originally from the Philippines. He said he hadn’t hear a thing about “Let’s Talk Columbia”, but he has seen an increase of crime in Columbia – mainly from the news and reports of vandalism by friends.
He said he thinks he’ll be too busy to attend this weekend, but does think dialogue is important.
Before Santo moved to Columbia, he lived in Phoenix. He said the problems in Columbia don’t “compare to the problems in a big city. The big cities are much worse.” COLUMBIA — The spike in crime in the city of columbia has many residents concerned, and some say they would take the opportunity to start a dialogue that would lead to change.
The “Let’s Talk Columbia Event” being held this Friday and Saturday at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. The goal is to engage all residents to come out and discuss ways to make Columbia a better place to live. There is a real push to bring out the youth population of the city.
Fred Lee, originally from Kansas City, MO said he has noticed an increase in crime in Columbia, but doesn’t think the problems will ever be unbearable. Lee came from Kansas City to leave the violence behind, and he said he never think the violence i Columbia will reach that level. Although he didn’t want to doesn’t want to get involved because he didn’t think a dialogue would change anything, he said he thinks the violence will decrease if people were made to pay for their crime instead of receiving “a slap on the wrist.” He thinks it’s a good idea to get the younger generation out. “It sounds like a good idea because thats where most of the crime is at. It’s in the younger generation.”
Lee said Columbia is a nice town because it provides a nice life for people. “You can make it here when you can’t hardly make it anywhere else.
Ann Wanserski (18) attends Hickman high school
He does think that Columbia could improve city planning. “They should bring in somebody from outside the city,” he said concerning planning and development. If the city is expected to double in size, then it should make bigger roads and bring in more businesses, he said. The bigger businesses will increase employment and he believes this will lower crime.
Overall Santos said Columbia is a tolerant, friendly and accommodating place.
Christin Young (17) attends Hickman High School. He didn’t hear about the event, but would be willing to contribute suggestions. He thinks in order to get more youth involved the city should come to the people instead of asking the people to come out. Surveys and classroom visits would be a great way to do this, especially to attract a younger audience. He thinks it a good idea to bring out younger people because “young people are our future.”
He said he has noticed an increase number of shooting from reading the newspaper.
“Within the 5 year I’ve been her, I’ve never seen so much shooting,” he said. He also noticed an increase of other killings and robbery.
Christin thinks the dialogue is a good idea as long as the suggestions are implements into actions. “It’s a good thin to talk about it, but it’s another to do something about it,” he said.
Matt Keel (25) is from Columbia and said he hadn’t heard about the event, but would be willing to attend. He said he might attend this weekend after being informed. He thinks dialogue is a good idea. “It wold be helpful to get the community involved and get their input,” he said, adding people shouldn’t be silent on the issue.
he thinks this would be a good way to fix problems in addition to community watch and people learning to be aware of their surroundings.
V. S. Gopal president of the executive board of the Shanti Mandir Hindu Temple and Community Center learned about the event through e-mail.
he is publicizing the event to a youth committee at the temple. He said it is important to get the youth involved because they are the future so they should be involved in the planning.
Although members of the temple will be celebrating its first year anniversary, he will try to make both that Friday and Saturday dialogue.
He said it is important for the Hindu community to be involved because the all people need to contribute their input and ideas, and he feels dialogue is effective.
“Dialogue is absolutely essential to understanding each others point of view and not being ignorant of facts.” He said that ignorance produces fear. He said it is also important that the dialogue produce follow-up action. “There is a need for on-going dialogue,” he said.
He encourages all Columbia residents to come, and make time if necessary, out because it’s an important event.
He has been in the U.S. since the 1980 and in columbia since ‘85. Prior he lived in a Chicago. he said although it is inaccurate to compare Columbia to a big city, the problems of Columbia don’t compare to Chicago.
The only other improvement he suggested would be to find ways to increase community service to ensure no one is left behind. ex: Food bank
“I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem with a weekend of activity… but getting started is a good step.”
Allen McCarter, originally form St. Louis, learned of the event through an e-mail list serve. He is really pushing for the youth to come out. “It is our desire to give the you an opportunity to share what their interest,” he said. “Often we’ll dismiss the young as not really knowing what’s best for them.” He thinks they can definitely provide some great insight on crime, but he doesn’t think they play a huge part in the increase in crime.
McCarter thinks the problem involves everyone. He says often people think the problem will be solved with more police patrol, but the it takes everyone to make change.
He does think people might be deterred by the weather.
McCarter has gotten together with a group of colleagues and friends to really publicize the event with flyers and by word of mouth.
He said it is important that everyone come out because the problems affect everyone – his family, his friends with children, and even those without children.
He is concerned about those in the city who feel displaced, and may feel the need to commit crimes. He think the dialogue will help because it will help the city identify the problems and find what can be done to improve them.
McCarter said when he moved to Columbia 3 years ago, he heard crime was segregated to the 1st Ward, but “today I don’t think people can say crime is segregated to the 1st Ward,” he said.
Christopher Keller is an MU student originally from Kansas City (MO). He said he learned about the event form several places, one being the Big Brothers Big Sister Program he works with. He thinks it’s important for youth to come. “I’m around a lot of kids in the community and they don’t have a voice,” he said. “They have valid points.” He said he hopes adults come out and listen instead of just showing up, because they play a significant role in teens actions.
He has also been publicizing the event at his church, Urban Empowerment. He said the church has been trying to attract a lot of people because it is a way to be a church outside the four walls and get involved in the community.
Keller thinks the increase in crime comes from in-opportunities in the city and also think it has a correlation with kids being idle.
He, like McCarter thinks the residents shouldn’t wait on police to reduce crime, but instead need to find a way to give people opportunities and more jobs.
He hopes the dialogue will continue. “I’m really praying this isn’t a one time thing.” He also hopes this will bring Columbia together. Keller said there are 3 different Columbia’s: the 1st Ward, the South side, and MU.
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