Editorials

Concerned about Fresno’s north-south divide? Join us Saturday for a community conversation

In a meeting at The Bee in early October, people participating in a dialogue between residents living north and south of Shaw Avenue in Fresno marked their neighborhood on a map of Fresno. The Fresno Bee is convening a dialogue about Fresno’s north-south divide with residents who live north and south of Shaw Avenue, the city’s historical dividing line. The dialogue is part of The Bee’s transparency work with Arizona State University’s New Co/Lab and a partnership with Spaceship Media.
In a meeting at The Bee in early October, people participating in a dialogue between residents living north and south of Shaw Avenue in Fresno marked their neighborhood on a map of Fresno. The Fresno Bee is convening a dialogue about Fresno’s north-south divide with residents who live north and south of Shaw Avenue, the city’s historical dividing line. The dialogue is part of The Bee’s transparency work with Arizona State University’s New Co/Lab and a partnership with Spaceship Media. bcalix@fresnobee.com

Let’s not fool ourselves: Fresno’s north-south divide is real.

We know because we asked you. And now we want to bring together as many of you as possible to talk about it.

On Saturday, The Fresno Bee will host a forum at Fresno City College to continue a communitywide dialogue about the Shaw Avenue dividing line that for generations has been the unofficial demarcation between a prosperous north and a struggling south. The forum is free and everyone is invited.

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Fresno Bee editor Joe Kieta Fresno Bee file

This conversation has been happening formally since September, with two meetings attracting people from both sides of Shaw to discuss common concerns. Saturday’s gathering is the culmination of this process, but we see it as not an ending but a launching-off point for an even deeper future discussion.

The Bee took on this project as part of an ongoing partnership with Arizona State University’s News Co/Lab to improve transparency in our journalism and to build trust in our work. Spaceship Media, a journalism organization that’s dedicated to bringing together disparate groups through meaningful civic dialogue, has helped us shape the conversation. Jeremy Hay, a co-founder of Spaceship Media, will attend Saturday’s meeting.

Jim Boren, who is my predecessor as executive editor of The Bee and now leads Fresno State’s Institute for Media Public Trust, will serve as moderator for Saturday’s gathering. He will lead panel discussions and exercises over two hours.

Also participating will be Danielle Bergstrom, who has researched this topic and just launched Fresnoland, a media and policy lab that will focus on the city’s most important issues.

Brianna Calix, The Bee’s city hall reporter, led the two previous meetings. She said the conversations reinforced that much work needs to be done.

“The people who participated in the dialogue process were ready to acknowledge the city’s inequities and history and move forward, but it quickly became apparent that’s not the case for all Fresnans,” she told me. “As a reporter, this project underscored the importance of local journalism and having a news source made up of community members to tell these stories.”

The Bee is in a unique position to convene these conversations, and I’m committed to making them happen into the future. What we need now is your participation.

We will start promptly at 2 p.m. in Room 251 of the Old Administration Building at Fresno City College, and the event will wrap up by 4 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

Bring your ideas, and prepare to engage with people you haven’t met before.

Joe Kieta: 559-441-6307; @josephkieta

If you go

What: Community conversation on Fresno’s north-south divide

When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fresno City College, in Room 251 of the Old Administration Building

Sponsored by: The Fresno Bee

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