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The invitation-only Canby Community Summit sought to take first step toward finding a path toward unity

Unity. It's a word worth pursuing, yet a word that seems to be so hard to attain in today's environment.

Ray Keen and the Rotary Club of Canby are hoping to do something about that. They spearheaded the first steps toward that goal Friday night at the Canby Community Summit.

The invitation-only event brought together nearly 80 people, some from outside the area just wanting to see what Canby's event was all about, to talk about "the impact of polarizing positions," according to Keen, president of Rotary Club of Canby and executive director of The Canby Center.

PMG PHOTO: JOHN BAKER - Jamie Stickel (right) talks a little bit about what the night will entail while fellow emcee Paul Hauer looks on during the Canby Community Summit.

He noted the outside guests "about eight of them are there to learn about how to gather leaders in their own community to work toward stronger relationships and peace. They asked if they could attend and learn." Canby's attempt to take those first steps toward unity amongst so much discord has resonated with communities outside the area, it appears.

There was plenty of information and opinion to sift through as those attending simply tried to pin down what something like "unity" might look like – and how to make it happen in Canby.

Keen said the goal of this first summit was "to strengthen relationships between Canby's leaders for the purpose of addressing community problems and opportunities collaboratively. Tonight is a beginning, a first step toward this goal.

PMG PHOTO: JOHN BAKER - A crowd of nearly 80 invited guests took part in the Canby Community Summit on Oct. 22 at Willamette Valley Country Club.

"Our community faces many challenges that can only be turned into opportunities by working together," Keen said. "Peacemaking is a priority for Rotary. We are localizing Rotary's mission toward greater peace in our town. If not Rotary, then who will encourage and facilitate collegial communication and collaboration amongst our leaders?"

Emcees Jamie Stickel and Paul Hauer led attendees through the night's program, highlighted by three table talk questions that each table would work through. The themes from those answers would be put together to give an overall picture of what the goal should be.

The questions were:

Tell us about a time when you made or built something that you were especially proud of?

In Canby, what characteristics of community would you like to see shared with or strengthened for future generations? Why?

Share about a time someone built goodwill and better friendships in a community where you lived?

Themes such as acceptance, tolerance, finding needs and filling them, finding common ground and respect were the end result.

Thoughts from Mike McNulty, Stickel and Hauer, as well as from musical guest Michael Allen Harrison were also part of the night's program, which ended with Keen offering his thoughts.

"It won't be said of us that we weren't willing to begin," he concluded.


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