From talk to action: “What’s Next, Cullman?”

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Andrew Cryer

CULLMAN – The David Mathews Center for Civic Life (DMC) held its final forum in Cullman Tuesday evening to not only finalize and recap previous discussions, but also bring heart to action. 

“How do we get to where we want to go?” was the question the community discussed in the third forum in the “What’s Next, Cullman?” series. Participants came together at the North Alabama Agriplex to discuss ways to improve the quality of Cullman's workforce and expand public transportation options in the community. In this final forum, according to organizers “We will lay the foundation for moving towards action to address the issues identified in the second forum: ensuring Cullman has an educated and prepared workforce, and exploring options for increased public transportation opportunities.”

The forum started off with a brief introduction of participants and a reminder of top issues that came up in the previous two forums. Those present ranged from concerned citizens to representatives of various nonprofit organizations in the community.

The forum focused on how to develop soft skills in the younger generation, and how to improve our education system as a whole. Discussion tended to focus on expanding civic education and financial literacy in order to foster a new generation of civic participation.

The forum did however shift to what resources are available in town for populations in need, and how some communities don’t have access to the resources available; specifically, food banks and the Cullman Area Rural Transportation (CARTS) program.  Noted limitations of the CARTS program included service hours, and the fact that having a few large buses transporting one or two people isn’t as effective as having more vehicles such as vans.

Representatives from Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church explained that undocumented individuals cannot receive food assistance from some food banks due to citizenship status.

Some ideas discussed about how to assist undocumented Cullman residents were to provide them with information about organizations that do not question citizenship status, and information on how to become a citizen. Our public transportation system could be improved by, according to those in the forum, expanding Uber into Cullman County, and possibly becoming a pilot city with Mercedes in the company’s new self-driving bus program.    

After lengthy discussions about some areas needing improvement and talking about ideas to fix them, those in attendance decided that simply talking about what they see as Cullman’s problems won’t be enough anymore.  Individuals took it upon themselves to begin to organize a Facebook group for those who participated in the What’s Next, Cullman forum and other local activists. 

Those interested in possibly joining a future Facebook group, or who would like more information, are asked to contact Julie Hall at 256-775-0028 or by email at juliehall@linkingcullman.org.

For more information about the DMC, visit http://www.mathewscenter.org.

 

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