A Civic Event

On February 10th, 2024, the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Citizen University, and HD South, Home of the Gilbert Historical Museum, produced the third Civic Event, here in Gilbert. Hosted at HD South in Gallery 4 by Art Intersection, community members came together to be inspired by the photography of Dan Budnik and Susan Berger honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dan Budnik’s work chronicled the Selma-Montgomery March, the March on Washington D.C., and the Voting Rights Act; and Susan Berger’s photography were images of streets throughout the United States named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Participants in this Civic Event arrived on a chilly, rainy Saturday morning to a delightful breakfast board over which they shared stories about a time when someone helped them.

Participants also were prompted to discuss something worth celebrating in our community/country today?

After the first few dialogue sessions, participants were asked to experience the exhibit during which upbeat jazz music was played. After which, we moved into a circle for discussion.

It was acknowledged that we are currently living in a time of extreme, and some would argue toxic, polarization where our differences are weaponized to bring gain to a very small group of people in our country. In the Civil Rights Era, it seems clear to us now what endeavors were fair and right and just. Today - it seems that it’s murky for many to see what’s fair and right and just.

From the essay, “Inside the Dream”, James Enyeart wrote: “It was Budnik’s desire to help reveal the power of non-violence through the courage and commitment of the marchers, and their desire to assign King’s manifesto to that realm of history where humanity succeeds rather than fails.”

The small group conversations revolved around this sentiment: As we live today, in what areas would you say humanity is succeeding rather than failing? And what strategies can we use from those areas of success to uplift the areas where humanity seems to be failing?

Finally, the event closed with “Civic Toasts/Prayers” where participants were asked to share (in 30 seconds or less) from this prompt: If you could extend a toast or prayer to our community/country, what would you say. Some participants said: “Cheers to you for being fairly easy to make a life worth living in.” And “Salud for having diverse neighbors who don’t resort to violence when confronted with opposition.”

The event ended with the opportunity to tour the museum and get re/acquainted with Gilbert’s arts, culture, and history hub.

The next free civic event, open to the public, will be in the second quarter of 2024. Stay tuned. If you would like to contribute to a future civic event by way of poetry, art, music, delivering a civic message, or sponsorship, please reach out to Elaine Kessler Elaine@gilbertchamber.com 480.941.6321