From April 30 to May 6, the Community Building Institute, a partnership between Xavier University and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, held two luncheons that featured conversations with regional and national experts on local and community issues.
The informal atmosphere allowed the experts to offer ideas and motivation for improving communities to the 30 to 40 people who attended each session.
In addition, the luncheons provided local leaders with a vast array of networking and met the Community Building Institute’s mission to "facilitate collaborative action among residents, local organizations and institutions that leads to comprehensive asset-based community development."
This spring, CBI enlisted the expertise of Daniel Horgan who pushed for more involvement of youth in rebuilding communities, and William Cochran, who talked about the value of participatory arts as a community-building tool. Art, he said, acts as a catalyst for getting people involved with their neighborhood's appearance.
"People loved it," said Trina Jackson of the institute staff, "because of its environment geared toward a discussion instead of a series of lectures. People were able to ask questions in a setting where they normally wouldn't have been able to."
Last fall, the lunch series welcomed Jim Diers, who spoke on awarding small grants to grassroots neighborhood groups in an effort to revitalize a neighborhood through beautification. David Rusk spoke at the second fall event about regional equity of housing in relation to race and economic standing in order to create an environment where upper and moderate income families can live together and receive equal economic opportunities.
Participants included members of local museum groups, neighborhood councils and Cincinnati City Council. Because of the success of the "Great Ideas Luncheons," CBI is planning another series in the fall.