Taking the Time to Listen
What do you get when you put four facilitators at a table with 8 high school students? Some lively conversation and interesting thoughts to be sure!
Before getting into any specifics, I would like to thank Euclid High School for hosting our first “Common Ground” Conversation. Common Ground is an exciting region-wide initiative to explore our community’s power to communicate and connect in order to build a stronger, safer and more dynamic home. Common Ground creates a network of community conversations where residents can meet, share a meal, connect and discuss our 2019 theme:
My environment was…
My environment is… My environment will be…
In Euclid we are focusing our conversation on environment by entitling it, “We’re All in This Race Together!” The community conversation will take place Sunday, June 30 from 1:00 – 3:00 at Tizzano’s Party Center. It is free and open to everyone. This event is being organized by Faith in the City and the City of Euclid. Organizers felt it was important to hear from the youth of the city so an after-school event was planned on April 11th so that we could hear from some of the teens of our community.
The Euclid High School students that participated were very thoughtful in their comments. Of course, being high school students, they talked a lot about their school environment. They also had some strong feelings about their community environment which is where I am going to focus. I was surprised by some of the things that we heard.
One young man talked about how bothered he was by the litter that he sees everywhere. He is bothered by the lack of respect that people show to the place that they live, the place where he lives.
One young lady talked about how her neighborhood had changed. She talked about missing the days when she knew her neighbors and would visit with them out on the front porch. Another said that there should be a “New Comer Program” and that we should be good neighbors and introduce ourselves when someone new moves into the neighborhood. Yet another student said they there should be more neighborhood gatherings where neighbors could interact. Now, I’ve heard many long-time residents of Euclid express these sentiments, but it was very interesting to hear teenagers express the same thoughts!
One of the opinions shared by many of the young people gathered was a feeling of not being welcome or wanted. When the school day ends, they are promptly ushered out of the school building. Sometimes they have after school activities that start a little while later, but often they must still leave the school building. They are no longer welcome to study at the library right after school. Many of the students understand why this decision was made by the library but are rightfully unhappy that the inappropriate behavior of some has led to the banning of all students not in an organized program.
They want and need a place to go. There is no Rec Center. There is no YMCA. Many need rides home after school and there is no one available to take them home until after work. I don’t have the answer to fix this problem, but I do know that an engaged teen population could have a huge, positive effect on the City of Euclid.
One of the other facilitators shared that she asked the student at her table if they would be living in Euclid in ten years when they had finished college. She reported that almost everyone at her table said they would not be here in ten years. These students are our future. How do we as a community let these young people know how important they are to us and the future of the city?
I hope that these students come to engage with the adults of the community on June 30th. I hope you will come and engage in the Common Ground Conversation on June 30th so we can all talk about the kind of Euclid we’d like to see. The students are ready and willing to get involved given the opportunity. How about you?
Vice President of Moore Counseling and Mediation Services, Inc., Councilman for Euclid Ward 2 and Associate Minister at Lake Shore Christian Church. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org