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The Power of Community

American writer Margaret J. Wheatley once wrote, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”  Since returning to Claremont in 2008, I have witnessed the people of Claremont traveling that road of discovery.  The journey has manifested itself in many ways.  Sometimes the results are easily seen while others are more abstract in nature.  Regardless, the outcomes are demonstrations of what we value as a community, and proof that we are capable of changing our environment when we unite to do so.

In the past decade, the community has placed great value in its architecture and facilities.  This has been expressed through the restoration of mill buildings, the renovation of the high school and community college, and the opening of the community center.  More recently, we, as a community, have turned our attention to public health and safety initiatives such as the prevention of childhood lead poisoning and the reduction of violence.

Within the last year, Turning Points Networks (TPN) has led the effort to reduce violence in Claremont  through the implementation of the Green Dot Program.  Green Dot is built on the premise that community members can measurably and systematically reduce violence.  Its methodology has been adopted in both the military and in parts of the nation with proven success.  Thanks to TPN’s efforts, this methodology is now being used by many organizations in the City.

Reducing violence requires a cultural shift, and changing the culture requires widespread community engagement.  It is why Green Dot has been so successful in other communities, and why we as a community must stand firm against violence in any form.

Recently, the Valley News published a story of an alleged racially-based hate crime against a child here in Claremont.   Understandably, the incident received a lot of attention and is now the catalyst for a community discussion regarding diversity and the need to address racism where it exists.   The discussion will begin on September 12th at 5:20 pm in Broad Street Park.  This discussion will be the first of many steps as, together, we delve into this topic.

Who we are as a community is demonstrated everyday through our actions.  Where we want to go will be determined by what we value and by our commitment to unite to achieve those values.   As a community, we have treasured our historical heritage and changed the brick and mortar of our surroundings.  Now it is time to focus our attention on our cultural heritage and what we want to preserve for future generations.

Charlene Lovett is the Mayor of Claremont and welcomes your feedback.  Please email questions, comments or concerns to her at clovett.ccc@gmail.com.