Institute showcases democracy in the Mid-Ohio Valley

A unique event occurred in our valley last week that should make us all proud. The WV Civic Life Institute brought people from around our state and region, from other parts of the country, and, indeed, from around the world, to train people on how to talk together about difficult issues and strengthen their communities.

The WV Center for Civic Life wishes to thank West Virginia University at Parkersburg president Dr. Chris Gilmer, his board, staff, and students for the support they gave the Institute and the warm welcome extended to guests who had travelled far to attend. International Fellows from the Kettering Foundation came from Fiji, New Zealand, Colombia, Russia, and Pakistan to learn about how communities work in the United States, using our community as a model. The events happening in Parkersburg were live tweeted all over the world!

The staff and board of the United Way Alliance of the Mid Ohio Valley, and of the Parkersburg Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates provided scholarships to ensure that all could take advantage of this wonderful learning opportunity. Our community’s charitable organizations deeply understand the importance of investing in this kind of community learning. The Institute would not have been successful without their generous support.

The Mid Ohio Valley has its problems, but, as the recent Institute demonstrated, we also have energy, passion, and ideas about how we all can thrive here. If we can be known as a community that listens and welcomes disagreement with civility, is continually learning and looking for new ideas, and knows how to work together to solve problems, people will want to move here to live, and they won’t want to move anywhere else.

Jean Ambrose