Foundation in Focus: Diversity, conversation, engagement strengthen New Albany community
I moved to New Albany in 2018, and although I knew other Black families lived in the community, I didn’t see them reflected in the New Albany publications that were delivered to our home.
Sharing where I live with new friends from other Columbus suburbs often results in an inquisitive raise of the eyebrow, and questions like, “How is it?” or, “How are your children navigating at school?” or simply declarations: “Hmm, I have heard that’s a tough community for people of color.”
My answer was that we have not had any issues, and our boys were doing well in school. But as I thought more about it, I began to realize that neither I, nor my neighbors of color, were an active part of the community. Chicken or the egg?
Were we not engaged because we are not considered, or the other way around? As I continued to receive these homogenous neighborhood publications, I suspected the latter.
So I set out to change that. I actively joined a parent-teacher organization and the New Albany Women’s Network, and I reached out to notable neighbors for coffee.
As I was getting to know my community, something happened. Something terrible. George Floyd was murdered and became the uncomfortable catalyst for America’s self-examination of its relationship with race everywhere, including New Albany.
Shortly after, I received a call from the New Albany Community Foundation president Craig Mohre. We met and shared ideas of what the New Albany community could do to promote authentic conversations, learning and greater understanding.
For years, the foundation had played a role in promoting community conversations on important issues, so leveraging its New Albany Lecture Series made sense. Other ideas we identified included a community book club or book reads, a film series and establishing an inclusion advisory council.
The foundation launched the lecture series eight years ago to promote lifelong learning, community dialogue on important issues and greater understanding. At a time when America is woefully divided and many retreat into echo chambers, the New Albany Community Foundation strives to bring people together in civil discourse and to present varying perspectives, allowing each of us to arrive at our own conclusions.
The positive response to the Sept. 16 lecture, “Conversations on Social Justice,” with Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. and local television anchor Darlene Hill, confirmed that the community welcomes discussing important issues and learning about all of their neighbors.
I now am a member of the community foundation’s board of trustees and its inclusion advisory council. I look forward to continuing to add diverse perspectives, seeing the community reflected in the work and bringing our entire community together around lifelong learning opportunities.
My hope is that we will continue to strengthen our community and reap the benefits of diversity in all of its forms.
Kimberly Lee Minor is a member of the New Albany Community Foundation board of trustees.