Change is hard to come by. And it’s even harder to do alone. But when we work together, change is possible.
That’s why College of Charleston students, community leaders, and local organizations will come together on Saturday, March 31, 2018, at the Lowcountry Community Leadership Summit to identify local issues and critical needs, and work together for the advancement of our community. Hosted by the Honors College and sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services and the Riley Center for Livable Communities, the Lowcountry Community Leadership Summit is free and open to the public.
Designed as a platform for positive change in the community, the summit aims to serve as a catalyst for conversations to construct and sustain a productive, equitable Charleston community.
“There is a substantial amount of work being done in the Lowcountry by different groups and individuals intent on improving our community. However, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of all this, to know who is doing what, and where; it becomes daunting, and unfortunately, sometimes isolating,” explains Robert Maynor ’17, assistant director of student engagement for the Honors College and project lead for the summit. “To build a more productive, equitable community, we have to work together, not in factions.”
Maynor hopes the summit will help foster connections between otherwise disparate organizations and individuals with similar goals, and that it will provide a venue for open and honest discussions about how the College of Charleston and local leaders can work together to build bridges and advance the Charleston community.
“For me, the most exciting aspect of the summit is that the folks attending are not only incredibly adept at identifying and discussing issues in our community, but are also willing and prepared to get their hands dirty and to work at enacting change,” Maynor says.
The summit will begin with a student poster session where Honors College students will present their findings on various leadership, social justice, and community engagement topics. Students Abbie Kline and Jessie Riley will present a proposal for the theoretical expansion of the Green Heart Project to Lowcountry middle schools. Student Chase Myers will discuss the effect of student volunteer efforts at the Trident Literacy Association, and student Kerry Wischusen, who has worked with the College of Charleston REACH program, will detail her research on mindfulness as community engagement.
Teacher, education professor and executive director of the Charleston Freedom School Jon Hale will lead the morning panel discussion, entitled “Addressing Racial Disparities Through Community Engagement.” Cathryn Zommer, executive director of Enough Pie, will lead the afternoon panel on housing and urban planning entitled, “Forging a Liveable Lowcountry,” which will feature panelists from the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, Metanoia, and the Riley Center.
Breakout sessions will feature topics including overcoming stigma, access to systems, educational inequalities, beyond the march, voting and citizenship, equitable advocacy, a tourist’s eye view, and living under the law. The topics were selected by students in the Scholar-Citizen Initiative. Currently in its inaugural year, the Scholar-Citizen Initiative connects a group of 25 Honors College students serving in a variety of leadership roles across campus with the goal of identifying areas of need in the Charleston community and creating impactful programming around those needs.
Honors College Dean Trisha Folds-Bennett says the summit is the culmination of years of partnerships between the Honors College and the Charleston community through the Honors Engaged program, which facilitates year-long partnerships between freshmen Honors students and various organizations on and off campus, including Kids on Point, Trident Literacy Association, Green Heart Project and CofC REACH.
“The Lowcountry Community Leadership Summit is an exciting new initiative that brings our partners to campus for a day of sharing and conversation,” says Folds-Bennett. “This event provides students with an opportunity to further develop their conception of civic engagement, while also enabling the Honors College to expand our relationship with the community and deepen our commitment to collaboration.”
The summit will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Stern Student Center at 71 George St. The event is free, but registration is required.