Sometimes finding the answers to the issues facing our community can be as simple as talking to our neighbors. Today, over 100 Stateline residents joined forces at Rockford College to do just that.
"We have the school issue, we have the economic issue, we have cultural divide issues," says Conversation Cafe participant Mark Hunter.
Everyone who attended the Conversation Cafe at Rockford College agrees that there are many problems facing the city of Rockford. But all agreed that fixing those problems could be as simple as reaching out to our neighbors.
"It really starts with conversing, talking about what's going on. After you talk about it, you can act on it," says participant Megan Zuba
"Too often in our moving about in life, we have these very surface conversations but we really don't get down to the real issues," Hunter says.
"We're not gonna be able to get to the bigger problems unless we're including all the voices in Rockford," adds participant Liza Grisales.
Those voices were heard on Saturday afternoon as members of the community converged in Regent's Hall to share their vision for a better Rockford.
"People sense there is a need, a need to come together in a different way," says participant Marjorie Veitch.
Participants brought with them concerns from their community.
"The important thing is going to be putting the issues on the table and the community really working together to hear each other and maximize what Rockford can be," Mark Hunter says.
"I feel like people my age need to be more aware of what's going on in the world," adds Megan Zuba.
Organizers say the event may be the catalyst for change this community needs.
"As they've developed a sense of what other people's issues are, they get a richer appreciation of the multiple issues the community needs to address," says event facilitator Margaret Wheatley.
Others say we need to be more consistent in our efforts to improve our community.
"Quit pointing fingers and start holding hands and I think we're all smarter together, so it's about collective intelligence," says Lynne Koenigsberger of WomanSpace Marketing.
Organizers say the goal of today's event is for people to discover the power of a community coming together to achieve a common goal.
WomanSpace is planning to make the Conversation Cafe a monthly event. Participants paid $70 to attend today's event.