Cocke and Fink: Community organizations work best – Roanoke Times

Posted: January 3, 2021 at 12:53 pm


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Bill Meade performing in the he March 2020 performance of Roadside Theaters play The Future of Letcher County at the Arch Social Club in Baltimore.

Dudley Cocke and Ben Fink

In a Kentucky coalfield county that twice gave Trump 79% of its vote, volunteer fire chief Bill Meade is known as a particularly outspoken Trump supporter. When we invited him to meet with grassroots leaders at the oldest African American social organization in Baltimore, some people got nervous. But when Bill walked in the front door and saw the Narcan the same medicine he and his fellow firefighters use to treat opioid overdoses back home he knew he was on friendly ground. His hosts seemed to feel the same: after watching him perform in an original play about his neighbors struggle to survive the collapse of the coal industry, one of them commented: We didnt know white people had those problems, too.

As we enter a dangerous moment in our national life, where a new president will try to bring us back together even as many of our communities are falling apart, these are the kind of connections we need. Weve been part of making them happen on a small scale in communities across the country. With the right investment, they could be happening everywhere.

The key to our approach is recognizing that every community has its own centers of power, like Bills volunteer firehouse in East Kentucky and the Arch Social Club in West Baltimore. These are organizations of, by, and for their communities: the local businesses, cultural centers, churches, and other spots where neighbors gather to support the place they live and the people they love. We partner with these organizations and their grassroots leaders to create opportunities for their community to celebrate its inherent spiritual, intellectual, and emotional genius.

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Cocke and Fink: Community organizations work best - Roanoke Times

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January 3rd, 2021 at 12:53 pm

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