The Transylvania Times -

Project Empathy

Time To Listen

 

Last updated 9/28/2020 at 4:11pm

Billy Smith

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]

Billy Smith

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)?

I am proud that for the most part we are a pretty close community. It's a small enough town that we can do that. Natives as well as people who move here quickly develop the Love for this town. The Spirit of Brevard is alive and well.

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?

We can improve on our understanding of each other. Understanding our cultural differences. And trying to see lives from each other's perspectives. Also inclusiveness. I can say that many in the African American community at most times do not relate culturally to the festivals downtown. But overall, there is a major healing that needs to take place. The trust between our Black and White has been an issue that has consistently been swept under the rug. Real history needs to be taught in our schools. Which goes back to understanding each other.

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

I personally am involved 100 percent in our youth in our community. I'm a muralist, and an art instructor at Aura Gallery and Studios (a Black owned Business). Specific ways that I'm trying to help this community include being a youth leader at Destiny Christian Fellowship; being a resident artist with the Arts in Schools program at TC Arts; volunteering at Rise & Shine and Davidson River High; mentoring at Brevard Middle School (book club) and at Brevard High School; speaking to students at Brevard College, and being the tech theatre teacher at Brevard Academy.

Bobby King

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)?

Initiatives like Blue Zone and Empathy Projects; Sharing House; collaborative efforts like Power Up to raise money for fuel for folks, positive involvement of law enforcement (Sheriff and Police) in encouraging things like the Community I.D. program; many benefits of having Brevard College involved in the community; incredible recreational benefits for all ages; and the Music Center!

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?

I think we need to find ways to intentionally and physically bring people together in non-threatening ways. I am reminded of a program in Greensboro called Strangers to Neighbors where folks get together informally over food to get better acquainted. Last year UUTC teamed up with St. Phillip's for Power Up, with a conscious effort made to bring others to the event. It was a good way to connect. I think a joint inter-faith religious service would also be good.

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

Providing food to Bread of Life every Thursday, recruiting and sponsoring Latino children and families to TYSA soccer through El Centro, tutoring at Brevard Elementary (until the virus hit), working as the Transylvania County representative of a COVID-19 mitigation project run by True Ridge in Hendersonville - distributing PPE to Latino restaurants, trailer parks, businesses, and individuals, etc., working with the UUTC Dignity Project, Community I.D. project when it resumes.

Bob Hayward

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)?

The dictionary's first definition of a "community" is "a unified body of individuals..." The unifying factor might be common interests, common characteristics or living in a particular area. But what I find refreshing is that, while these common factors may be the underlying link, the community is the PEOPLE. So, while I love the mountains, the streams, the waterfalls, the forests and parks, etc., it's the people who make me proud: the people of Transylvania County, the people at my church, my co-workers at PARI, the staff and students in our schools, and the owners, managers and clerks in our businesses, governmental agencies, medical facilities, etc. The thing that is so devastating to me during this COVID pandemic is the lack of traditional interactions with these people.

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?

Unfortunately, I must admit that, except for my experience in the military, I have had minimal contact with people who are "different" than I. Whenever I have been involved with people of other "communities," I am enriched, and I hope they are as well. I would like to see more opportunities for interactions among "communities" of diverse backgrounds, faiths, ethnicities, talents, etc., perhaps just visiting each other for a few hours of familiarization, food, frivolity and fun.

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

•As a member of Project Empathy, I have met many people who are doing amazing things in Transylvania County. I have participated in the Project Empathy meal functions where high school students from the three high schools sat down to eat and interact with each other and with adult leaders in the county. I also assisted with the Time to Talk public forums and now, Time to Listen.

•In my faith community I have taught youth and adult classes, participated in Stephen Ministry and a mission trip, attempted to sing in the senior choir, and participated in various worship and service activities on site and throughout the county...even picking up litter on our "mile" of U.S .276.

•As an educator I have been a speaker for programs in the library, churches, schools, camps and PARI. I write the "Mountain Skies" columns in The Transylvania Times and I have been a judge at the county school systems annual science fair. For my own enlightenment and enjoyment, I have been an usher at the Brevard Music Center.

•In my residential community I have served as an officer on the property owners association and on committees. Many years ago, I initiated a monthly email community newsletter, for which I still serve as editor.

Louise Koontz

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)?

I'm most proud of the people in Balsam Grove. They are always willing to help each other. Our churches are very active in helping their members and other folks in the community. Also, our community center does everything it can to reach out and help families. It provides local entertainment through jam sessions and bingo, an annual fall festival, an Easter egg hunt, and numerous yard sales. Of course, COVID-19 has curtailed many of these activities, but we will have them again in the future. If a community member is in need, we have "private" shopping experiences when there's an emergency and a family may need clothes or linens like after a fire. The community club also provides scholarships to local students and donates sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer and tissues to Rosman area schools. We have an active food bank at God's Way Ministry that is supported by MANNA and provides food assistance every two weeks. Like other food banks, our numbers have picked up during the pandemic as the need has grown. Pandemic or not, Balsam Grove has always reached out to help whenever there is a need. We're a small community, and it often seems like everyone knows everyone, but we work hard to make sure no one is forgotten.

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 color, faith, education or economic background?

We could all practice acceptance. That means we would be non-judgmental, willing to forgive and forget, and try to live every day the way we're taught by the Golden Rule. My faith is what sustains me, as I know it does many others. I believe things will always get better, and accepting others is a large part of that.

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

I love going to my church and participating in the fellowship there, and I enjoy volunteering in my community. I work at the food bank at God's Way almost every time it's open, I am an active member of the community club, and I try to practice being a good neighbor. My years as Adult Services Supervisor with Transylvania County Social Services gave me an opportunity to practice in my professional life what I enjoy in my personal life, helping others. I feel very blessed to be a part of the community I was born and raised in, and I love telling others how wonderful Balsam Grove is.

Bill Moore

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)?

I am continually pleased by the number of those who during perhaps the previous 50 years have chosen to move to Transylvania County, immediately learn more about it, and offer their time and resources to attack its problems or improve its beauty and livability. I am delighted with the pride and shared knowledge of those whose family tradition is in "these parts" of important American and pre-American history.

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?

Louise Koontz

Try to find some time each day to question one's self as to whether one is respecting fully the individual existence of each person one is encountering that day.

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

Although I am restricting my movement out from College Walk and receive no visitors here during this time of virus, I am finding new ways to: contribute with those here who have great concern for the relationships of this small community; plan and prepare for the future; participate online to converse and learn; encourage those who share white privilege with me to exercise their imaginative empathy by reading autobiographies and fiction by African-American authors.

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020