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Growth never comes without pain. It’s a mantra that has guided me throughout the past year. Growth feels difficult when you’re going through it; sometimes feels impossible.
Our community has certainly experienced pain during the last year. We’ve watched our state’s flagship institution — its students, faculty, and staff — experience protests, resignations, enrollment losses, and the threat of funding cuts. Students, faculty, staff, and the community have experienced this time of pain together.
What’s left to see is where and how we will grow from the pain and frustrations of the last year.
It is disappointing that students living in our community, customers of our city’s biggest business, experience racism. I often wonder how I, as an individual, can make a difference. How can I help make our community better for students and residents? How can I promote a community of inclusion and equity? That’s a personal question that I (and, I hope, you) will continue to explore.
I got the chance to meet MU’s new chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Kevin McDonald. He is an individual who will make a big difference at MU and hopefully throughout the community. He’s intelligent, warm, kind, and thoughtful. It’s not an easy job, growing from points of pain. While Dr. McDonald will guide our university to inclusion for all, he can’t do it alone.
Let’s take this opportunity to grow through the pain. Let’s work together, town and gown, to make our community better. Take some time to consider what helping would look like for you. Remember, our city’s success is inexorably tied to the health and success of the university and its students. How can you and your business work to be more inclusive? How can we become a city where everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or age, wants to be?
I want to thank everyone who attended our 2016 Top of the Town event, presented by Columbia Regional Airport. More than 400 people came to support the businesses you voted as Top of the Town. We enjoyed great live music from Spontaneous; food from Günter Hans, D. Rowe’s, and Kaldi’s; and beverages from Logboat and St. James Winery. It was a great party, and I’m happy we were able to recognize the dozens of first and second place winners that are deserving businesses in our community.
This is our education issue, so I hope you’ll learn some things: get a master class in leadership from Stephens College president Dianne Lynch, hear the struggles working families have when trying to afford child care, and take some time to think about the connection between the distribution of poverty in our community and the districting of our local schools.
Thanks for reading,
Brenna McDermott, Editor