Crazy Heat; Kinston’s Gathering for Good: Rural + Urban
A few days ago, we loaded our cars in Raleigh and made our way to Kinston for Gathering for Good. Our cars were packed with Rural + Urban materials, Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation Fellows, and ‘clear eyes’ and ‘full hearts’. As we drove from one of North Carolina’s urban hubs, through some of the most rural sections of the Old North State, the heat continued to rise and our minds began to wander.
When we arrived at Ginger 108 in Kinston and stepped out of the car, one of the JKHF Fellows commented, “This heat is crazy. I really hope that Ginger 108 has a good air conditioning system.” We did not expect the heat to be as excruciating as it was in mid-July. Similarly, we did not expect to have the turnout or the conversation at our Gathering for Good event.
As we settled in to greet attendees, community members of all ages started to pour in, ready to dive into the conversation. Leaders from Teach for America, Men and Women United for Youth & Families, and Conetoe Family Life Center shared valuable insights. We were overwhelmed at the eagerness of the community to come together to discuss how we can connect urban and rural North Carolina in order to make a more unified and stronger state.
The unity in the room was the cool breeze we needed to cool our minds from the heat of the day. The conversation flowed without interruption and the group hung on every word each community leader shared. Andrew Lakis, Interim Executive Director Teach for America-Eastern North Carolina, encouraged the packed room to recognize that the “opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.” He reminded us that our “greatest asset is the unlimited potential of children”. Lakis challenged each person to ensure that every student in North Carolina gets access to the education that they deserve.
Shortly after Lakis’ call to action, Dawn Baldwin Gibson, Executive Director of Genesis 457 CDC, built on the Asheboro’s Gathering for Good reminding us of the importance of our own power. She pointed to each of us and said, “ You are a treasure, I am a treasure, we are all treasures.” Baldwin Gibson pressed each individual to not only recognize their own power, but to also recognize the collective power the room had to offer to those who were not with us. She asked, “How can we help those who have been disenfranchised and oppressed realize that they have a voice and are needed at the table?”
Throughout the evening as the heat continued to rise, our ideas and our collective strength grew. Our community -if only for that night — didn’t let temperature, age, sex, religion, or ethnicity serve as barriers to constructive conversation. Everyone walked into discomfort and searched for answers to the vital questions of how we offer the best education to all North Carolina citizens. We fought against stereotypes and brainstormed ways to empower those not present to recognize their potential and get involved..
If you missed our Gathering for Good in Kinston, we encourage you to join us in Winston-Salem on August 9. Until then, let’s keep the conversation going around the dinner table, in coffee shops, and online!
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” — Corey Booker