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Breaking bread to aid understanding

Samie Moazzami, center in grey, was the facilitator for a community engagement dinner meeting held at the Vista Del Lago condo complex community room April 13. (Crista Jeremiason / PD)

10 groups throughout city share dinner in effort to help citizens meet their neighbors

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Friday night, across Santa Rosa, about 100 strangers broke bread with one another in a city-sponsored experiment in community building.

In the first of what the city hopes will be many such events, 10 groups of about 10 people each shared a potluck meal in an effort to get to know their neighbors, discuss what makes communities special, and brainstorm ideas for how to build stronger ones.

“In a community where people know each other, it’s safer and it’s safer for the kids,” said Dory Escobar, who attended a meal at the Vista Del Lago condominium complex in Bennett Valley. “I think we desperately need to get back to that in Santa Rosa.”

The program, called Discussions Inspiring Neighborhood Engagement, or DINE, is the brainchild of Georgia Pedgrift, the city’s new community engagement coordinator and co-host of the Bennett Valley event.

Pedgrift, a native Santa Rosan, says she modeled the program after one she learned about in Texas called Desoto Dining and Dialogue. The nonprofit group encourages people from various cultural backgrounds to share a meal together in an effort to “improve understanding, enhance quality of life, and promote harmony among the racially diverse citizens of Desoto, Texas,” its mission states.

Desoto, a city of around 50,000 people south of Dallas, has struggled with racial tensions, and the program sought to bridge the cultural and racial divide separating its citizens.

“When I saw it, I said ‘Hmmm, that’s an interesting concept,’ ” Pedgrift recalled.

She saw in the Desoto program a way to help accomplish some of the goals of her new office, which are to help link people to city services, encourage volunteerism and get residents more involved in the city’s public processes.

While the city has several established neighborhood associations, Pedgrift feels more can be done to help foster stronger, more engaged neighborhoods. For the DINE event, she reached out to “hundreds upon hundreds” of people throughout the community in search of three kinds of people: those willing to host a meal, those willing to facilitate a discussion and those interested in participating.

She then assigned participants to a host in their general geographic area, trying whenever possible to “cross-pollinate” the groups to create a good mix of interests, she said. The meals took place from 6 to 8 p.m. across the city.

A primary goal of the meeting was to help Pedgrift gather ideas from residents about how their communities can be made stronger and how the city can help. But she also hoped that through the meetings, neighbors who didn’t know one another could strike up connections that over time could become the relationships that bind a community together.

“There are so many benefits to knowing who your neighbors are and feeling like you can count on them,” Pedgrift said.

At the Bennett Valley event, participants munched on bruschetta, lasagna and salad while facilitator and Sonoma State University student Samie Moazzami walked the group through a series of questions designed to get them to think about what community means and how it can be strengthened.

After noting many of Santa Rosa’s strengths, such as its natural beauty and the warmth of its residents, participants cited significant challenges. Crime and the impact of budget cuts were two common themes. Vista Del Lago resident Leticia Hanke noted her car has been burglarized twice in her complex. “I felt violated,” said Hanke, a roofing contractor.

Many others said they felt abuse of drug and alcohol is a growing problem in the city, especially among youth. Matt Coxon, 25, who is training to be an EMT, said the number of overdoses he’s seen is amazing, noting that teenagers dealing drugs are “nonchalant” about it.

For more information about the program, visit: http://ci.santa-rosa.ca.us/departments/cityadmin/communityengagement/Pages/default.aspx





24 Responses to “Breaking bread to aid understanding”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Liz, that may be true of yesterday but not today. When I was a child most moms were at home with the kids and interacted with everyone on our block. It was the at home moms who brought everyone together and made a point of knowing their neighbors. (maybe out of loneliness and isolation). Now, women have to work in order to make ends meet. They aren’t at home and kids are in daycare or locked in their homes until their parents get home. Many more single parent homes too.

    I have lived over 20 years in my current condo location. I “know” some people in my neighborhood but we don’t have time to socialize much, just watch out for each others property. No one is home during the day and when they are at home they are involved in family life. This is all a result of the unfortunate cost of living that have overtaken us all.

    I think this is a good idea, especially in neighbor hoods where there are problems.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  2. Western Cluebird says:

    The neighbors I like best are those that respect boundaries and property, practice common courtesy, help each other and mind their own business.

    Big government does not practice good neighbor behaviour,even if they manufacture consensus meetings to fake it.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  3. Missy says:

    If anyone should go away it should be the nanny state lovers. WE don’t want YOU here, don’t you hear what WE say on this forum? Duhhh!

    Funnily enough I had a conversation with my own neighbors, yesterday and today! And the nanny-staters did not get involved. Wow, can you believe it!

    And Bear, no I’m not XTIAN, nor do I give a crap about religion, but some of my neighbors ARE and guess what? They’re Republicans. ROTFL!

    As I stated before my neighborhood is getting more and more right leaning because of the taxes and nanny-state bs being pulled by the county.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  4. Get Real Now says:

    Seems odd that there is no mention of a persons lawn, tidy yards, or religion in the article and yet a hateful post is allowed here and not blocked. Guess the post was made by PD staff? Who else would get away with that kind of rhetoric?

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  5. bear says:

    I have never read a more mean-spirited assortment of comments. Are any of you people Christian? So you hate your neighbors, unless they have tidy yards?

    Just go away. I am ashamed that you exist.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 16

  6. Skippy says:

    Unbelievable. Our nannys think we need their help to have a conversation with our neighbors.
    Big Govt means just what it says.
    The bigger it gets, the smaller you get.
    For statists and the permanently dependent Occupiers, that’s a deal they will take.
    For real Americans, prepare to fight in every sense of the word for our country.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 8

  7. Liz says:

    “city-sponsored experiment in community building.”

    What happened to the good ol’ days when neighborhoods had block parties, where you made the effort to meet your neighbors and where you did all of this without the city having to sponsor it?

    You shouldn’t need a facilitator to meet your neighbors, you shouldn’t need a city sponsored experiment to meet those living around you. Neighborhood groups should not be asking for this type of program, they should do it on their own. I mean what are they that incapable of doing it on their own?

    It’s time to get back to the real America the great America we used to be!!!!.
    Take the time on your own to be nice and meet your neighbors and have pot lucks etc. If we have to have the city plan this meet up for us then something is very very wrong!!!!

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 7

  8. @Jimmy says:

    Every facilitator uses the delphi technique? WRONG, silly.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  9. Jim Bennett says:

    Government sponsored neighborhood groups.
    Hmm.
    Government sponsored protesters.
    Hmm.
    Sure is lotsa Government sponsored ‘programs’ lately, huh?

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 9

  10. Jim Bennett says:

    Get used to all kinds of new terms and an alphabet of acronyms not familiar to our culture or social fabric popping up like mushrooms.

    We’ll have ‘facilitators’ telling us what our ‘vision’ is, building our ‘consensus’ for us.
    Like the OneBayArea pow wows for example.
    They embodied civil unrest, security called. They’re STILL are going to claim 87% support. ADD; Already Done Deal.
    When the term ‘mandatory volunteering’ pops up, that’s when you know you took too long to learn about the Delphi Technique.
    Search it on the two links provided.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 10

  11. Friendly Advice says:

    If I want to be facilitated I will take my Mercedes to my local mechanic. He can fix anything. He could even help your facilitators work more collaboratively getting your Prius or Smart Car fixed.

    He wouldn’t charge what the town neighborhood facilitator is getting for getting people to discuss their feelings in a neighborhood meeting.

    Santa Rosa should put the neighborhood facilitator on the layoff list and contract with a good mechanic who would do a lot more good in the community.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 9

  12. Missy says:

    BS to the “@” person. I live in a neighborhood and guess what? More and more of MY liberal neighbors are becoming more and more righty because of the bs of SR and the county of SoCo.

    We don’t need a bloody taxpayer funded “potluck”.

    & BTW “@” person, can’t you think of a more original name for your deluded liberal self? Sheesh. You libtards are UNORIGINAL!

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 9

  13. @Friendly Advice says:

    You’re now accusing me of being Georgia? Hilarious.

    Neighborhood groups have been asking for this type of program. That’s why it’s already successful.

    You can live in your own little corner by yourself. :)

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 16

  14. Friendly Advice says:

    @ Georgia Pedgriff

    Santa Rosa isn’t some third world country that needs a little “peace corps” volunteer to come in a straighten out tribal differences.

    Your little program has something much more sinister in mind. Whats next, rooting out those who disagree with the party line? Any time you hear the phase, “I am from the government and I am here to help” RUN!

    This country was built on individuals solving their own problems, not the government inserting itself into neighborhoods to root out the non-believers in the government’s dogma.

    It’s not the neighborhoods that need your enlighten hand, it’s the local government in Santa Rosa that needs enlightenment as to the real direction Santa Rosa neighborhoods need to take.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 11

  15. @Jim Bennett says:

    Didn’t think you’d be able to provide any. Maybe you should participate instead of assume. Better yet, become a facilitator. They’re volunteers from the community, not Delphi-trained.
    :)

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 18

  16. @Friendly Advice says:

    Highly paid city employees don’t do the facilitating. Volunteers in the community do. Maybe you should do some research on the program. :)

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 15

  17. Friendly Advice says:

    I don’t really like my neighbors. Most of them rent the houses they are living in and don’t really have a long term committment to the neighborhood or Santa Rosa.

    I just want them quiet and do not disturb please. Oh, can you keep all of those extra cars you drive off the street in front of my house?

    I don’t need a high paid city employee coming round so we can all have a good talk. If they or I wanted to talk we would.

    Let’s just keep the fences up and the yards clean. I want to choose my friends and the people I socialize with. I can’t choose my boss or my neighbor but it is a good idea to stay on good terms with both so lets not get personal and see it all go to hell.

    This is another bureaucratic, bungling, interferring idea sponsored by an intrustive government.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 10

  18. Jim Bennett says:

    No proof necesita.
    We’re in possibly the most ICLEI adherant epicenter in the US.
    These are neighborhood programs duplicated in all ICLEI chartered communities eventually.
    Employing a ‘facilitator’ in such a setting by definition means that the Delphi Technique is being implemented.
    Look at the reference sources provided.
    We have a lot of Nation wide coincidences happening.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 9

  19. @Jim Bennett says:

    Do you have evidence to support your conspiracy theory accusation that Georgia was trained by Delphi or is anyway associated with ICLEI? Not that there is anything wrong at all with Delphi or ICLEI, as you purport.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 18

  20. Steveguy says:

    This is copied from a posting that relates here.
    ” Hey, I found the money! Mind you, this is just ONE CAMPUS.

    UC San Diego’s massive diversity apparatus includes:

    The Chancellor’s Diversity Office

    The associate vice chancellor for faculty equity

    The assistant vice chancellor for diversity

    The faculty equity advisors

    The graduate diversity coordinators

    The staff diversity liaison

    The undergraduate student diversity liaison

    The graduate student diversity liaison

    The chief diversity officer

    The director of development for diversity initiatives

    The Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity

    The Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues

    The Committee on the Status of Women

    The Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion

    The Diversity Council

    The directors of the Cross-Cultural Center

    The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

    Thats just ONE UNIVERSITY. Spread this across the whole UC/CSU systems and how much money is being slurped up by overeducated strap hangers?

    Tell me again how we’re NOT being scammed by credentialed frauds posing as academics.

    How many millions of dollars, if not billions, could be spent on tuition assistance for low income folk that is being consumed by the “Diversity” bureaucracy that produces NOTHING but racial strife and tribal politics? ”
    ________________

    I found that, and Jim is right. Like the plastic bag ban ” meetings” — they are an orchestrated ballet thinking that they own the ballot, and they do that in this city and county all the time. Witness the nonsense about the old Burger King, that was always a drive thru, with ZERO problems. The Taco Bell line, or the McDonalds line don’t bother a soul.

    What gives ? Made up claptrap?

    ICLEI owned and occupied…

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 16

  21. darrell says:

    dear missy, how much did it cost you to have citizens invite neighbors into their own homes for a potluck?

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 6

  22. Jim Bennett says:

    Another benign looking warm ‘n fuzzy little story, right?
    OK, Georgia Pedgrift didn’t learn about this from a town in Texas, she learned it from ICLEI.
    She’s a paid, trained Delphi facilitator.

    This is early soft peddle indoctrination toward sponsored ‘neighborhood groups’
    that engage in ‘consensus building’ a ‘process’ that will employ the black magic of incrementalism to morph OUR community into an ‘ism’ of decision making outside the accepted approved municipal dynamic that our leaders have sworn to uphold.
    This is not rooted in our Government or Constitution, it comes direct from ICLEI.

    Here’s a summation of what defines a Soviet model of governance, see if it rings a bell, might wanna have a drink first:
    * A soviet is a system of councils that report to an apex council and implement a predetermined outcome, affecting a region or neighborhood often arranged through a process of facilitated consensus.
    * Members of a soviet council are chosen by virtue of their willingness to comply with that outcome and their one-mindedness with the group.
    * Soviets are the operating mechanism of a government-controlled economy, whether it be socialism or public/private partnerships.

    This is bottom up social engineering, employing an alphabet of acronyms; instruments too varied to include in this blog. Smarter people than me already have.
    Here’s more sources outlining how they plan to do it (or try):
    http://www.santarosaneighborhoodcoalition.com/read-now.html
    http://www.freedomadvocates.org/articles/sustainable_development/the_consensus_process_20060603181/
    Did anyone remember giving these people permission to subvert and sabotage our whole system?
    We are in the middle of a take over folks.
    Top down, bottom up, inside out.
    This outlines the bottom up part.

    BTW, this is not to dis-credit well meaning citizens who ‘broke bread’.

    Our house is on fire, not a good time to watch TV.

    Might be a good time to have our own ‘neighborhood summit’.
    What more appropriate place to hold it than with our ‘Council’ on Tuesday evenings.
    I’ll be there asking THE QUESTION.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 18

  23. Missy says:

    WASTE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS! This city funded agency should be disbanded!

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 16

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