Canby leaders will meet this month for the first-ever Canby Community Summit, a non-political event focusing on building peace, relationships and curiosity, with a bit of fun thrown in.
The event is being organized by the Canby Rotary under the direction of President Ray Keen and past President Cash McCall. It will gather leaders from the city and city council, police and fire departments, school district and school board, churches, clubs and businesses.
The goal is "strengthening mutual respect and collaboration among Canby's leaders."
"I think it's important to note that we're not trying to eliminate conflict in Canby," Keen said. "That's not an achievable goal. But we can inspire a season of collaborative problem solving. We can work toward stronger collective intelligence. And we can work toward deepening respect for one another. And that's what we're endeavoring to do."
The idea came while Keen was pondering his year ahead as Rotary president and from the mission of Rotary, which is "to provide service to others, promote integrity and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through our fellowship of business, professional and community leaders."
"Normally, Rotary does this peacemaking part internationally ..." Keen said. "But my sense in thinking about it has been — I can't think of a greater need in our town right now than the need for peace-building and neighbors being able to get along and to be able to process through different perspectives without being angry. I think it's so important right now."
Hosted at the Willamette Valley Country Club, the event is cost-free for the invited leaders thanks to Canby Rotary, Canby Alliance Church, Bethany Church and Bridge to Life Fellowship.
The evening will move along with help from two emcees: Economic Development Director Jamie Stickel and DirectLink President Paul Hauer. Attendees will have the chance to get to know leaders from other sectors and discuss important questions, such as, "In Canby, what good would you like to see shared with or strengthened for future generations, and why?"
There will also be dinner along with music from Michael Allen Harrison.
Toward the end of the night, a group of Rotarians will collect information from the table conversations and share it with the whole group as a part of the "collective intelligence" goal Keen referred to.
The night will end with a message from Keen.
"It is not likely that something like an evening together is just going to knock out all the problems. I don't expect it to. I really don't," Keen said. "But maybe for some. I think of it like a bell curve. There are some really loud voices out on the ends of the bell curve. It's just a few people. But there are a lot of people who are in the middle of this thing. And most of us are kind of along for the ride. We tend to be quieter in the middle. We don't want to make a lot of waves. We don't want to add or contribute to the problem.
"So, my hope is that by the end of the night that the folks who are in the middle feel a greater degree of common ground and momentum to build a community that they care to see passed on to their children and grandchildren. I would love for them to feel more empowered to move the community forward. And that's not about right or left. It's ultimately about people caring about people. And that's what we're trying to do."
Keen said the summit may lead to future summits with different themes and could potentially lead to summits in other communities as well.
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