The words at the bottom of our Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service publications read:
“Texas A&M AgriLife Extension provides equal opportunities in its programs and employment to all persons, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Yesterday, as news of a (since cancelled) white supremacist rally on the Texas A&M University campus developed, our Extension Director took a few moments to remind us of that statement and our commitment to it, and I’m so glad he did. The agency provides additional information about it’s Equal Opportunity Statement here.
I’m a community development specialist, and I cannot let this go by. My role in our AgriLife Extension vision to “help Texans better their lives” is to help Texans improve our communities. There is no room for hate or discrimination in a community. Communication, mutual respect, and the establishment of shared interests and commitments are critical to community building.
Many of you have probably heard my Texas Rural Leadership Program (TRLP) colleague Ronnie McDonald speak about the importance of “sitting a spell” and engaging in meaningful conversation with neighbors.
If you are interested in starting a dialogue in your community, please check out the resources below:
Vanderbilt University: Difficult Dialogues
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Getting the Community Involved in Local Development Efforts
Kansas State University: Two Modes of Conversational Circles
If you would like assistance, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1719.
*BTHO – Beat the Hell Outta, a Texas A&M Aggie slogan found on shirts and signs at athletic events (BTHO [Opponent]).
Updated with Civil Dialogue Resources 8/22/17.