It's only talk, but Willie Ratchford takes it as a good sign.
Mecklenburg County commissioners this afternoon launched the beginnings of a conversation about the cliff Mecklenburg's nonprofits face.
A panel discussion among nonprofit leaders and others last week drew more than 200 people. Carol Hardison of Crisis Assistance Ministry suggested that the community needed a human services strategic plan to tackle the growing woes of the poor.
Today, commissioners discussed what a process would look like to devise such a plan. They agreed to try to convene a meeting next month of all of Mecklenburg's elected bodies to get community-wide buy-in. That's smart, since the problem goes way beyond county government.
Commissioner Harold Cogdell raised eyebrows when, talking about how complicated the problem is, he referred to striving to have a better community "in 30 years, or 50 years."
Commissioner Vilma Leake didn't like that. "Someone said 50 years. I hurt when I hear that," she said. "We need to act right away."
(Cogdell later emphasized that he shares the desire to get something done immediately.)
Commissioner Dan Murrey said the process needs to involve businesses, foundations, hospitals, nonprofits and others, along with government. He said it would take at least a year to devise a comprehensive strategic plan.
Ratchford, executive director of the city's Community Relations Committee who helped organize last week's forum, said he had hoped the forum would spark a conversation about the problem.
"It's starting to happen," he said.
- Posted by Taylor Batten