By Cassie Ronda
It started with two living room conversations.
The first took place in a small home near East Van Buren and North 32nd Streets in Phoenix. Pete Nichols and his wife, Victoria, had lived there just over a year after feeling inspired by God to move into the Central City neighborhood. They expressed a desire to build meaningful connections with other members of the low-income community.
The second conversation spanned nearly five hours in a rent-controlled apartment complex just a block away from the Nichols’. Ayana Ayers and Isaiah Woods, both in their early 20s, shared their concerns about raising their son in a time when they feel distrustful of the police. Both said they wanted an opportunity to talk with local police about issues facing their neighborhood.
In response to these conversations, the PIN Bureau organized a small roundtable discussion, hosted at the Nichols’ home, and invited Guillermo Arrubla, a sergeant with the Phoenix Police Department. Arrubla patrols in the Central City precinct.
With the PIN Bureau facilitating an off-the-record discussion, Arrubla and the two couples got to know each other through a series of questions, including:
- What issues in your community are most important to you?
- How could we help each other address these issues?
- What could local journalists do to cover these issues well?
The PIN Bureau came up with a simple way to test whether the conversation helped participants build meaningful connections. Before the discussion, each participant described themselves in five words, without the others hearing. After the discussion, participants had the chance to describe each other in five words based on their interaction that night.
Watch the video above to see the camaraderie that was built during the dinner discussion.