By Staff –
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced he will be collaborating with InterFaith Works to conduct a series of “dialogue circles” aimed at creating understanding and informing collaborative community solutions.
This week, InterFaith Works sent invitations to more than 30 people representing a cross section of faiths, races, and ethnic backgrounds. They anticipate that 12 to 15 people will participate in the initial Dialogue Circle, which will begin immediately following Columbus Day and continue over five weeks.
Additional dialogue circles will be organized in the winter and spring of 2019.
“We will endeavor from the very beginning to set an environment of learning from one another, respectful listening and deep sharing in order to create a set of recommendations that include the best thinking of each group member,” said Beth Broadway, president and chief executive officer of InterFaith Works.
InterFaith Works’ goal is to build bridges of understanding among people of different religions, races, and ethnic backgrounds. The orgainzation operates the El-Hindi Center for Dialogue, a community “hub” which brings community members together to discuss and take action on a variety of complex problems facing the community.
“In many cities and states where Columbus recognition is part of the public discourse, the decision-making has been bitter and divisive. Columbus discussions have devolved into frustration, an us versus them mentality, winners and losers, and deeper divides and hurt within the communities,” Broadway said. “Mayor Walsh reached out to us earlier this year and asked InterFaith Works to help guide the conversation in Syracuse so that, through this deliberative dialogue, better decision-making can result.”
“Columbus recognition in Syracuse and across the country is all around us, from a government holiday and community observances to history books and local monuments,” said Mayor Walsh. “With the help and experience of InterFaith Works, I’m hopeful we can come to a better understanding of each other’s interests and concerns and find common ground to go forth together.
Funding for the program has been provided by private donations. The Dialogue Circles will result in recommendations from other circles as well as a joint report from InterFaith Works and the City.