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'We Are Lincoln'

Putting words into action  Part 3

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[December 18, 2013]  When the "We Are Lincoln" group met last week, a large portion of the meeting was a continuation from their first meeting, in November. At that session, lists were compiled by those in attendance, naming projects that needed to be started or completed in Lincoln. The goal was to identify what is needed in order to make Lincoln a better place, and also how to draw attention to the good things that are already going on in the city.

Later in the evening, moderator Michael Gowin moved the discussion to identifying new issues that were not already on the pages on the wall.

Jeanette Harris said there was not enough information regarding services for those in bad situations. Harris spoke about those who are in poverty and also have other issues in their lives, such as difficulty finding work because they have a criminal background.

Harris reminded the group that in society, most of those who live in poverty are victims of generational poverty, where children are following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents. She said there needed to be more done in the community to help break these generational cycles.

Patrick Doolin also updated the group on what is going on with the downtown revitalization programs. He told them that the steering committee had presented two recommendations to the city council for actions to be taken in 2014 that would start showing physical evidence of the revitalization.

He said that in addition to what has been recommended, there are other projects that other groups are trying to get going. He mentioned as a for-instance, an empty lot near the Lincoln Public Library that will be developed into additional downtown parking.

David Doolin said there are several things going on in the community that are not just a "snapshot in time"; they are ongoing, continual efforts. He named specifically the Together for Lincoln program that annually does work to improve the lives of those less fortunate or unable to maintain their homes due to health or age.

He said the We Are Lincoln group could be an aggregate for new ideas for existing movements, and that they could team together and help each other in making improvements in Lincoln.

Aaron Cantrell, who is involved with Together for Lincoln, said there is a new men's group forming at Jefferson Street Church as a spinoff of Together for Lincoln. He said the group is going to be starting soon with a new outreach that will offer assistance to widows and single-parent families.

Gowin then moved the topics along, asking members of the group to talk about why they were there.

Andi Hake of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce spoke up first, saying that she had missed the first We Are Lincoln meeting because she had to attend another meeting, but that she had been very excited to hear how many people had come to the initial session.

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She said the work this group wants to do is something that in the big picture will make her job easier. As the executive director of the chamber of commerce, her role is to promote the community, bring new business into town and help the city grow. She said groups working together and making Lincoln a better place through projects such as the dog park make Lincoln more attractive to those looking to come here.

Another member of the audience said Lincoln was her husband's hometown. As a couple they had left Lincoln, but they returned 10 years ago to raise their family here. She said she wanted her kids to be proud of their hometown and to want to stay right here.

David Lanterman said he was part of the group because he wants to help improve Lincoln.

Harris spoke again. She explained that she is a single mom with kids, and she's working to receive her education at Lincoln Christian University. She said typically those who are poor and struggling don't often participate in meetings like this one. However, she said she had built up her courage and come to the meeting because she wanted to be a voice for those who are afraid to participate, and she wants the betterment of Lincoln to include the betterment of those people.

Blinn Bates said he felt that many of those who were in the room were there for the betterment of the city, and they had come from a desire to be a part of it. He commented that on a very cold night, his home was safe and warm, but he felt a need to be a part of this movement that would move the city forward in the future.

As the one-hour mark passed at the meeting, the question was asked, "Can we make a list of things we want to do?"


In the final segment of this series, the group discusses how to promote the We Are Lincoln group and the community as a whole.


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