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Life and Religion

Bite into a slice of pie and social justice, too at McColl Center
Meet, greet and talk culture April 26
Published Thursday, April 26, 2018 10:20 am
by Ashley Mahoney

The Community Pie Social brings people together for sweets and conversation on the impact of social issues in Charlotte.

It’s time for Charlotteans to stop lecturing each other, and start learning from one another’s experience.

Community Pie Social at the McColl Center on April 26 from 7-9 p.m. is an invitation to eat, talk culture, and discuss displacement of communities of color in Charlotte.

“Instead of them just sitting up there and saying, ‘this is how it is,’ [the social has] them lead through ‘this is my experience,’” said Armando Bellmas, McColl director of marketing and communications. “Having listened to that, have other people start talking about what their experiences are, and then sharing it with a smaller group, then sharing it with a larger group.”

Moderator Keith Cradle, adolescent program manager for the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, Carmen Fowler, assistant director of Moore Place and image activist Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. will take attendees from exploring the McColl’s exhibition “Transitory Emplacements” to individual conversations covering topics from homelessness to migration, as well as belonging as it pertains to identity and power.  The social also encourages people to consider “A Tale of Two Cities,” an initiative between the McColl and Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center on North College Street that examines housing insecurity through the art of Antoine Williams and Marcus Kiser.

“McColl, and a lot of the cultural institutions here in Charlotte, are the ones driving these conversations,” Cradle said. “I mean the hardnose conversations that people don’t want to have, especially as it gets down into race, race relations, social mobility, and especially the conversation that we’re going to have about displacement and people color in our community. Where are folk going? Are they being gentrified too much? All these things we know are happening, but no one wants to talk about it. Everybody loves pie, sweets, cakes, cookies. It’s a bait-and-switch; ‘hey listen, come have a great time, get sugared up. Now we’re going to talk to you about this hard-hitting idea.”

The trio will serve as a catalyst to multiple conversations throughout the experience.

“We’re all qualified to talk about it,” Bellmas said. “We chose them because in their work and in their personal lives [they] have dealt with that, with Keith working at the Sheriff’s office, Carmen at Urban Ministry, or Alvin through his photography and the exhibit at the Levine Museum [“K(NO)W JUSTICE, K(NO)W PEACE”]. They’ve all experienced it firsthand. They’re good ones to get the conversation going.”

Charlotte doesn’t have a problem listening, but the line between participating in conversations and considering those discussions as a replacement for action has begun to blur.  

“Usually the way it goes with a panel is experts get up there, they talk about stuff, and everybody listens,” Bellmas said. “They ask a couple questions, and then everybody goes home. We want the pie social to be more of a community discussion—everybody has a voice, everybody has a say. Whether it’s within your small group, or within the large group, people need to come ready to talk with their neighbors about the issues that we’re talking about.”

Said Cradle: “Charlotte has always been a great town for conversation and communication. One of our problems is actually action. We’ve heard it a ton of times, ‘what are we doing to move that needle forward?’”

Admission is free, but registration is encouraged due to limited seating.

For more information: http://mccollcenter.org/events/community-pie-social/216


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