The Columbus Indiana Community Area Sustained Dialogue, now completing two full years of monthly sessions, focuses its work on identifying and addressing obstacles to and creating opportunities for economically challenged citizens to achieve self-sufficiency – economically, socially and emotionally. The dialogue has created a space that regularly attracts Columbus area residents from all sectors of the community: from city council to the socio-economically disadvantaged, from United Way to community center leaders, from landlords to renters and homeowners, from the police’ and sheriff’s offices, to employment agencies and transportation specialists to medical professionals and church leaders and members. The participants often describe this dialogue as “a wonderful space that WE have created,” working across social and institutional boundaries. Concrete actions include the development of a comprehensive program to ensure those ready to work have reliable transportation. More broadly, participants note that their dialogue continues to have a transformative impact on the local political climate, moving from confrontation to listening, and from listening to dialogue.

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