Is it possible to Jumpstart a true dialog instead of more violence in Ferguson?

Is it possible to jumpstart a true dialog instead of more violence in Ferguson?

Police officers stand to confront a crowd they're trying to break up a on Canfield Dr. in Ferguson on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.  Earlier in the day police had shot and killed an 18 year-old man on the street and the crowd of people were upset.

Photo By David Carson, [email protected]

I find myself asking this question, as I reflect upon the news coverage of what’s happening in Ferguson. Each day, I worked with a variety of clients, mainly advocacy groups, who are doing phenomenal things to overcome inequities within their community. The leaders I work with use their organizations to help kick start conversations the drive community-owned action.

Yet, why are we watching people continuing to respond with violence in Ferguson, I heard one of the MSNBC Morning Joe anchors ask this morning?

People are upset; they are frustrated; and, I wonder if most of the American public understands the frustration that they are feeling, or do we?

I have watched as press conferences have turned into what is called community dialog—but, I’ve also watched as that “dialog” continues to be people voicing their frustration as the authorities try to convince them, it will get better—even saying, things will change here. But, the community doesn’t seem to believe?

Change happens only when we can bust through and overcome the resistance to the change we are trying to achieve.

There is a clear dissatisfaction with how things are in Ferguson. Yet, I fear there is also a missed opportunity to create real change in that community.

People are frustrated; and, if we tapped into that frustration, and helped them come together, there is a unique opportunity to turn that frustrated energy into a positive, ennobling, vision of possibility.

If one were to help the leaders of the community create an opportunity of engaging dialog that creates a shared vision of possibility, then, and only then, can the community become more connected and create an engaging, owned, action plan to change things.


It’s going to take more than just a press conference allowing six people to voice concerns. It’s going to take more than a lone person, like Captain Johnson, to jumpstart that conversation.

In fact, it’s going to take a true dialog, between the community and its leadership, to increase voter participation and ownership of the community to create lasting change that transforms the situation.

Returning to my original question then, it is possible to jumpstart a true dialog, but both sides, the community and its leadership, have to commit to such a dialog, have to commit to a collaborative conversation, where all walk out feeling heard, engaged, and most importantly, empowered to transform their frustration into positive direction.

My heart goes out to the community members, and the leadership, and I hope that each of you will consider creating such a dialog.

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