Monday night the Lowndes Community Foundation is getting the band — or at least the committees — back together.
The foundation, which is a local affiliate of the Tupelo-based CREATE Foundation, is hosting a community conversation Monday in the Nissan Auditorium at Parkinson Hall on the Mississippi University for Women campus. The event is set to start at 5:30 p.m. and to last for about 90 minutes.
“We want people to know we’re still alive and kicking, and we’re interested in what’s been done since our last (community conversation),” said Lowndes Community Foundation co-chair Jo Shumake.
That last conversation took place in 2018 at the Trotter Convention Center, Shumake said. About 200 people turned out for that, and five task forces were formed to address areas of concern: education; engagement; poverty; leadership; and crime and addiction.
“We were aiming in 2020 to have another event where those task forces would report back to the community,” Shumake said. “We wanted our folks to know this wasn’t yet another plan that sat on the shelf and gathered dust.”
Those plans were torpedoed by COVID-19 in 2020, and hopes for a 2021 event were scuttled as well, she said.
Monday’s event is just as much for the foundation as it is for the public, said foundation member George Hazard.
“We’ve been wanting to hear from those task forces and what they’ve been doing,” Hazard said. “We’re planning on getting updates from all of them, and where they stand now.”
The evening will begin with Lewis Whitfield from CREATE Foundation giving audience members a snapshot of Lowndes County from a statistical standpoint.
“He is a data-cruncher guru,” Shumake said. “He will give an overview of how things look economically and socially, and he’ll drill down into Lowndes County specifically and the labor market, general state of education, the economy and other things.”
Whitfield’s report will provide context, and will be followed by reports from each task force, Shumake said. Then there will be a period for public remarks and questions.
“We’re going to try to keep the reports fairly tight,” Shumake said. “We don’t want to lose our audience because it’s getting into supper time. After the reports finish up the different groups can get together and people can talk.”
Hazard said he hopes the event will encourage people to get involved, and even form new task forces.
“The two real goals are to hear from our task forces and to urge the public to join one, or even form a new one,” he said.
“I think the five we picked out are still valid issues, but we’re open to something new if people think there’s something we missed,” she said.
The event is free and open to the public.
HOW TO GO
■ WHAT: Community conversation addressing education; engagement; poverty; leadership; and crime and addiction
■ WHEN: Monday at 5:30 p.m.
■ WHERE: Nissan Auditorium at Parkinson Hall, Mississippi University for Women
Brian Jones is the local government reporter for Columbus and Lowndes County.
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