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Archive for Saturday, May 12, 2001

Bert Nash forum seeks to build on summit

Officials hope momentum continues for creating a closer-knit community

May 12, 2001

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Ever since January's Bert Nash Community Summit, people around Lawrence have been asking "What's next?"

Now they'll get a chance to help decide.

Monday night, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center will play host to a community forum on how to use the summit's momentum to create a more close-knit community.

"The summit was not an isolated event," said Pat Roach Smith, Bert Nash spokeswoman.

January's summit featured Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone," a book about how Americans have grown increasingly disconnected from each other. He coined the term "social capital" to describe the benefits people get from interacting with each other on individual and corporate levels.

According to a Bert Nash survey, Lawrence residents have been trying to build their social capital ever since through volunteerism, spreading the word about the summit, making personal changes, getting involved in community groups and increased political activism.

Karla Kral, Bert Nash's media specialist, said some summit attendees were inspired simply to just be nicer.

"Some people said, 'Let's have a neighborhood picnic,'" she said. "Some people said, 'Let's have the neighbors over to dinner.'"

Smith said a number of residents have indicated they want to continue the dialogue started at the summit. Lawrence city commissioners, during their goal-setting session in late April, mentioned that they wanted to do a follow-up to the summit.

After the summit, Bert Nash sent surveys to 800 attendees to gauge their reactions. Officials at Monday's meeting will share results from the 140 surveys that were returned .

Representatives of the Journal-World, the Roger Hill Volunteer Center and the Lawrence Partnership for Children and Youth will also be on hand Monday, Smith said.

The meeting will be 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday on the second floor of the Community Health Facility, 200 Maine St.

"We hope," Smith said, "this meeting will begin the conversation."

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