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County Commission Chairman Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board Chairman Eric Davis and representatives from area community organizations urged support for Get Real 2011 during today’s kick-off at Johnson C. Smith University. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman, Charlotte Chamber CFO Mike Manning, Charlotte NAACP President Rev. Kojo Nantambu and State senator Malcolm Graham along with representatives from area organizations and community groups attended.

Crossroads Charlotte and community partners are spearheading Get Real 2011 to encourage residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg to become influencers on public budget decisions. Through a series of community-wide workshops participants will generate ideas and feedback on options to help close budget gaps in ways that reflect shared values. The results will be presented to elected officials.

Tracy Russ, executive director of Crossroads Charlotte, said the results from Get Real 2011 would be a guiding light for elected officials. Russ urged Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents and Get Real 2011 community partners to register to host or participate in small or large group discussions to explore how shared values should impact budget decisions.

“This is about the community using its voice,” Russ said. “If you’ve never been involved before this is the time to do it. We have to have an interested, engaged and organized resident base.”

Since Tuesday, an additional dozen community organizations have pledged to be Get Real 2011 community partners.

During his opening remarks, JCSU president Ronald Carter praised Get Real 2011 as part of a growing collaborative spirit permeating the region to tackle educational and financial challenges.

“I pray that from this moment we will begin to reach out. We will engage in generative listening,” Carter said. “The truth will emerge from listening and co-creating. It is time for us to come together and get real.”

County Commission Chairman Jennifer Roberts emphasized that the commissioners do weigh public sentiment when making budget decisions. She cited impact of the outcry over the closing of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library branches as an example.

“We have changed policy based on what we’ve heard from you,” Roberts said. “We are listening and we do care.”

REGISTER TO HOST A GROUP DISCUSSION AT WWW.GETREAL2011.ORG OR BY PHONE 704-973-4577.

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