Exactly a year ago, a core team of Y staff and volunteers met online to wrestle with strategies that could turn a vision for renewed community civility and hope into a possibility. So much has happened since those first meetings and we are excited to report our progress to date!
The Bridge of Hope's purpose is to gather people within Pierce and Kitsap Counties who desire to increase civility, understanding, hope, and trust by participating in meaningful civil dialogue around complex issues with those of differing experience and perspectives. Already our program has been lauded by local community influencers and is picking up momentum.
Progress in 2022
The YMCA hosted a Community Round Table convened by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D - WA 6th) at the University YMCA Student Center in April 2022, promoting federal support for critically important civic bridge building efforts. Rep. Kilmer and Rep Andy Barr (R – KY), Co-Chairs, introduced the bi-partisan Building Civic Bridges Act earlier this year. The Bridge of Hope community initiative is acknowledged as a significant effort of the YMCA.
Early in 2021, the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties engaged Essential Partners (EP) to train 15 facilitators, representing diverse spheres of community influence, in the Structured Reflective Dialogue practice. The training was held virtually in May.
In June, YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties convened 3 Community Talks/Community Listens sessions in the broader community, eliciting issues of concern worthy of deeper conversations through structured dialogue. We use an approach to dialogue that was developed by Essential Partners – our strategic partner in this discourse.
Our collaborative effort strives to create safe space for participants to express their personal values and views. Each participant will have an equal opportunity to share the stories and experiences that shape their views.
During the summer, South Sound YMCA partnered with YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap to grow the Bridge of Hope's geographic reach. In August, it had 10 facilitators trained in-person by Essential Partners in Olympia.
Presently two dialogue planning teams are forming:
The first in Tacoma, along with the support of Associated Ministries as the convener, in exploring the range of complex beliefs and emotions around gun violence.
The second planning team in Gig Harbor planning team is working toward the goal of convening Community Talks/Community Listens sessions in their region, alongside gathering various organizational leaders together to identify potential dialogues.
Want to stay informed on the work of the Bridge of Hope?
Please contact us to become involved. We would love to have you engaged in making a difference in our communities. Our purpose is to create a space for people to gather in meaningful civil dialogue around complex social issue with those of differing perspectives, elevate understanding, trust, and collaboration while increasing civility and hope in our community.