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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A community collaborative will kick off a series of “tough talks” in conjunction with Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Conference on Oct. 1. Tough Talks are a series of community conversations geared toward positive action and facilitated by Dr. Lyle Foster and Dr. Leslie Anderson. Foster is an assistant professor of sociology at MSU and an active member of the greater Springfield community as a change agent and entrepreneur. Anderson is a professor in the counseling leadership and special education department at MSU and owner of Catalyst Consulting. Together, the duo has enlightened thousands of Springfieldians through by facilitating the MSU Division of Diversity and Inclusion’s Facing Racism Institute and other community engagements.
Prosper Springfield Director Francine Pratt, the City’s Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and members of the regional business community were inspired by a Chamber-organized, community leadership visit to Lexington, Kentucky last year when they heard from community leaders sharing the importance of their “courageous conversation” series. Pratt and Scott remembered that a local “Tough Talks” series was very beneficial in the community prior to and following the racial unrest after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo in 2014. Pratt, elected officials and community leaders hosted on-campus forums, and later Lyle Foster, continued the “Tough Talks” for a short time thereafter and later brought the tough talks to the MSU campus.
"I think we all realized in Kentucky that it was time to resume these types of deliberative dialogue engagement sessions,” Francine Pratt said. “I sketched out a plan on a napkin on the plane ride home to Springfield and shared it with Cora, who said let’s do it! It’s only because of COVID that we have delayed starting the tough talk forums."
Brad Erwin, president of Paragon Architecture attended the trip to Lexington and has been engaged with the Tough Talks collaborative. “Springfield is a great place to live, but we will be better able to reach our full potential if we more fully embrace and understand diverse points of view,” Erwin said. “We have seen the power of this model that builds relationships and engages in dialogue which results in actionable steps to end racism and build a more inclusive community.”
Local businesses and organizations which are members of Springfield contingent who participated in the Lexington trip, formed the Community Tough Talk Collaborative and pooled resources to launch the first talk - ERacism: Action Toward Positive Change, kicking off virtually at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1. The collaborative is run by Community Partnership of the Ozarks and supported by partner organizations: City of Springfield, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, empower:abilities, Missouri Job Center, MSU Division for Diversity & Inclusion, Prosper Springfield, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals (a committee of the Chamber) and United Way of the Ozarks.
Tune in and participate at prosperspringfield.org or the Prosper Springfield and City of SGF Facebook pages To dialog, engage and be part of the change! “Tough Talks” will also be simulcast on the City’s cable channels – Mediacom channel 15.1 and 80 and AT&T Uverse channel 99.
For more information or to register for a sport, contact Prosper Springfield at 417-888-2020 or email [email protected].
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For media information, contact Cora Scott at 417-380-3352 or [email protected] or Jacque Harness at 417-888-2020.