Before anything else, listening to the community is fundamental to the way we work.
In the late summer/early fall every year, the congregations of Justice Matters will take two-three months to deliberately understand the concerns of the city through a series of individual meetings, house meetings, and/or door-to-door canvassing.
We endeavor to include a diverse and growing number of voices in our annual Listening Process, as well as to ensure meaningful conversations. Small group facilitators typically invite people they know and host meetings in their home to encourage a spirit of openness. They are trained to ask probing questions and to understand the meaning of responses through discussion.
All of the comments are collected and categorized into major themes. The Listening Process will conclude with an assembly where broad internal leadership will vote to select the priorities the organization will address.
In 2014, we conducted 108 house meetings in the month of October to include over 1,200 people meeting in small groups. We also canvassed the Edgewood neighborhood and the mobile trailer park behind Johnny's Tavern multiple times. Twelve themes emerged from these discussions:
- Concern for children
- Concern for the elderly
- Crime and drugs
- Full employment
- Health and dental care
- Housing and homelessness
- Mental health
- Public decision making at the city level
- Racial matters
- Wasteful tax spending
On November 10, 2014 at First Presbyterian Church, 450 Justice Matters leaders heard testimonies related to these concerns and voted to focus on three priorities: child welfare, mental health, and housing and homelessness.