Center for Nonviolence Schedules 'Grassroots Democracy, Making Community Work'

2/23/11 ASHLAND, OH -- "Grassroots Democracy, Making Community Work," the story of individuals coming together to form the Ashland County Parks District, will be held on Wednesday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ridenour Room (115) of Dauch College of Business and Economics at Ashland University.

The program, presented by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University as part of the Creating a Caring Community symposium, is free and open to the public.
Dr. Louise Fleming, professor of education at Ashland University, who is the programming director of the Ashland County Park District, will explain how a diverse group of individuals came together to develop a parks district for Ashland County.

Fleming will present the process of forming a task force, forming a parks district, and forming the non-profit support group, Friends of Ashland County Park District. "Ordinary citizens are now maintaining 1,200 acres in 11 parks and programming," Fleming says.

As opposed to political processes which are driven by large scale institutions or wealthy individuals with an interest in specific decisions, grassroots democracy is driven by small groups of ordinary citizens with varying backgrounds and political interests.

The impetus to develop the parks district came from recognition that the county was not systematically developing large natural spaces that can be maintained into the future. Such open spaces complement the city parks, which are often focused on sports and organized recreation.

According to its website, Ashland County Park District's primary goals are to "protect areas of unique natural or historical significance" and to "organize, promote, publish and operate educational programs pertinent to nature, resource conservation, crafts, skills and sport that form our historical heritage."

Information on Ashland County Parks District can be found at http://www.ashlandcountyparksdistrict.com/index.html.

"We can make the world a better place, and the best way to do that is by working on the grassroots level," Fleming says. "Individuals become citizens when they join together with other citizens."

John Stratton, director of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, said "Fleming's group is a wonderful local example of individuals working to build community."

"We know the feelings the word community evokes - a sense of sharing and interaction, sometimes a sense of shared commitment, but the word also refers to the people who happen to live near each other," Stratton said. "The challenge for all of us is bringing these two realities of community together, to create a sense of community with the people who happen to live near each other."

"Grassroots Democracy, Making Community Work," is the third of four in Ashland Center for Nonviolence's Creating a Caring Community symposium. "Who is My Neighbor?" a dialogue among the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths, originally scheduled for February, will be presented April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Dauch's Ridenour Room. "Who Is My Neighbor?" will address how conflict between the three major Abrahamic Faiths can be overcome by working together through their differences.

The Ashland Center for Nonviolence, located on the campus of Ashland University, is committed to exploring and promoting alternatives to violence in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world. The center is committed to finding choices when there seem to be none, as well as answering the seemingly unanswerable question, "What else can we do?" For more information about this event, or to learn more about the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, please call 419-289-5313 or visit us online at www.ashland.edu/acn<http://www.ashland.edu/acn>.

Ashland University (www.ashland.edu<http://www.ashland.edu>) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.