LITTLE MOUNTAIN — A Cultivating Community meeting that took place Tuesday in Little Mountain was aimed at exploring opportunities for the residents of Newberry County to work together and bring about positive changes in the community.
The meeting was held at the Little Mountain Senior Center and was made possible though partnering with the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce, Westview Behavioral Health Services, WKDK and Sonic.
“The minute Newberry County loses its sense of community we’re all in trouble,” said facilitator Charles Weathers.
The discussion began with participants asked to name their favorite television show as a child.
A sampling of responses included the Lone Ranger, the Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek and Bonanza.
Weathers said although the shows mentioned fell under a variety of genres, they could all be unified under the word “family.”
All agreed today’s television programs by contrast portray excessive violence, profanity and sexual themes.
Possibly indicative of a shift in American values as well as familial dynamics, Weathers said he wasn’t there to find reasons for the changes but to simply look for patterns of change.
“You better recognize the change so you can navigate it and survive it,” he said.
It all boils down to community engagement, which Weathers defines as, “The open and participatory process of working with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people.”
The motivation for engagement Weathers said stems from community members sharing common values, interests and concern over certain issues.
Education, for instance, is a unifying concept which transcends age, race, gender and socio-economic status — virtually everyone agrees educating children is important.
Other general concerns put forth by participants included the dilemmas most small towns face of retaining residents and attracting new residents as well as deteriorating infrastructure.
Weathers said people are often too quick to throw blame on individuals or institutions saying “those people should be doing this or that.”
Because, as Weather’s grandfather used to tell him, “All of us are those people to some people.”
Instead Weathers said we should recognize that individuals make up the community and therefore everyone collectively shoulders responsibility.
What a person can do as an individual to help strengthen a community is rooted in the concept of “high trust.”
The health of a community hinges on trust, the existence of which is broken down into two components — competence and character.
Weathers used the example of two general contractors — one a skilled repairman with deplorable business ethics and the other an upstanding citizen who doesn’t know a hammer from a nail. Neither can be trusted to fix a roof.
Believing large-scale change begins on a personal level Weathers said it’s important to look in the mirror and ask oneself, “Am I embodying the character and competency consistent with the position I hold?”
Reach Carson Lambert at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.