The Transylvania Times -

Project Empathy

Time To Listen

 

Last updated 9/21/2020 at 4:10pm

Project Empathy, in collaboration with The Transylvania Times, seeks readers’ input on ways to improve how we all get along as neighbors. Every Monday, starting Sept. 7, through the end of October, The Transylvania Times will devote space for individuals to respond to the following questions. At the end of two months, ideas and recommendations will be summarized and presented to the Transylvania County Commissioners, City of Brevard Council members and town of Rosman Alderman. Anyone from Transylvania County may respond. Unlike “Opinions of the Readers,” this is not a place for voicing political positions or criticism of different individuals or groups. The goal is to identify actionable ways to make Transylvania County a better place to live.

Individuals may answer all or some of the questions. And because many individuals may be hesitant to share what they are doing – they may submit a response in recognition of affirmative work others may be doing.

a. Name

b. Contact email address (will remain confidential)

c. What are you most proud of regarding your neighborhood or community (geographic area such as a community center, church, social or business organization or social group)?

d. Thinking about Transylvania County, what one thing or action do you think would help improve the way we get along regardless of where we come from, our skin color, faith, education or economic background?

e. What are you personally doing (or will do) to help make your community a better place?

Please note – this is a non-partisan effort and is not a forum for political comments or endorsements. Responses should be addressed to [email protected]

Lauren Agrella-Sevilla

What are you most proud of regarding your neighborhood or community?

I'm proud of knowing so many of our neighbors, of taking regular bike rides and evening walks with them, of knowing and learning their names. As we spend more time together (and it does take some time), we begin to learn one another's histories and our respect for one another grows. Our neighbors look out for one another; I feel very fortunate about that.

What one thing or action do you think would help improve the way we get along regardless of where we come from, our skin color, faith, education or economic background?

Spending time together learning one another's stories and seeing the common threads in all of our lives: our joys and challenges as sons and daughters, as parents, as workers. I wonder what it might look like for people new to town and for people who've lived in Brevard since birth, for young and old folks, black and white, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking, to gather together and genuinely listen to one another's stories.

What are you personally doing (or will do) to help make your community a better place? I teach several yoga and mindfulness courses at Brevard College. I love working with young adults and sharing tools for self-care and growing compassion. Brevard College students inspire me in their perseverance and in their desire to make the world a stronger, kinder place. I deeply believe that when we learn to honor our own bodies, our own breathing and heartbeats, and to begin to love ourselves, we cannot help but see the deep humanity in every other person around us. We develop a respect for the value of each person's life, even if (maybe especially if) others' lives may look very different from ours.

Watt McCain

What are you most proud of regarding your neighborhood or community?

I really like our See Off Community Center that goes back to the See Off Homesteaders Club almost a century ago. It’s a nice, attractive, and comfortable place, constantly being improved by volunteers and with the help of county grants. What’s special though, is what happens there. For me, it’s getting to meet and know my neighbors, mainly at the monthly (before COVID) potluck suppers. The center also serves as an emergency shelter whenever we have something like one of those prolonged ice storms.

What one thing or action do you think would help improve the way we get along regardless of where we come from, our skin color, faith, education or economic background?

I would like for county government to get away from this obsession to have a return of grand manufacturing and promote infrastructure, education (plumbing, electricity, carpentry etc.), and affordable housing for the service sector.

What are you personally doing (or will do) to help make your community a better place? Picking up roadside trash with the See Off Team.

Maureen Copelof

What are you most proud of regarding your neighborhood or community?

I am proud that our community works together supporting one another and steps up to help those in need. I see kindness and generosity demonstrated on a daily basis transcending the differences of political affiliation, religion, race, gender. We have a tremendous number of non-profit groups staffed with hundreds of volunteers and they support the most vulnerable members in our community. Organizations such as Bread of Life, Sharing House, Safe, Rise & Shine, Free Rein, Project Empathy, Hunger Coalition, Moving to Conservers, Boys & Girls Club....the list goes on and on. I am proud that even during the COVID driven economic and health crisis, individuals as well as organizations, reached out to see how they could help others. As a City Council member the question I am asked most often is “What can I personally do to help others?” That generosity of spirit is what makes our community so special.

What one thing or action do you think would help improve the way we get along regardless of where we come from, our skin color, faith, education or economic background?

I believe we need more events where people from different communities can interact and get to know each other one-on-one as individuals and not stereotypes. Examples of this are: downtown events that focus on our Hispanic or African American community; creating more public spaces where citizens can just relax, meet and get to know one another; holding forums such as Time to Talk/Listen series; sponsoring community dinners/picnics/block parties. These are all events that focus on bringing more people together because the more we know one another the stronger our community becomes.

What are you personally doing (or will do) to help make your community a better place? The biggest thing I am doing to make my community better is serving as a member of Brevard City Council. Building community has been and continues as one of my priorities. I have been actively working to create new community spaces and amenities that will provide areas where community interaction, communication and involvement can happen. Examples are the Depot Railroad Ave. Park; our new Brevard Dog Park and restored wetland area; Silversteen playground; our new concrete skate park; and our trail system. All of these areas help foster a healthy, interactive community. I also serve as Chair of the Downtown Master Plan Committee working to help our businesses weather the COVID impact and this team has been working on creating a vibrant, safe and attractive downtown area for residents, businesses and visitors. In addition I volunteer with numerous other organizations such as Project Empathy, NAACP, Blue Zones, AAUW, Project Democracy, Transylvania Garden Club, Master Gardeners, Rise & Shine, citizens Task Force on the Courthouse. Each organization I volunteer with allows me to make a difference to my community in a slightly different fashion and often I have the pleasure of being able to help bring different groups together in partnership to effect even stronger results.

 
 

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