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Swapping Pulpits,
Sharing Tables

Harvard Professor Robert Putnam’s Social Capital Benchmark survey in 2001 showed that Charlotte ranked 39th out of 40 communities in the country on levels of social and interracial trust. This study was the catalyst for creating the Crossroads Charlotte initiative.

To bring together diverse groups to create a different future for Charlotte, we created a series of community “xchanges” designed to move people to literally step into the shoes of others, experience others’ lives and to share those experiences with their fellow community members.

These xchanges were built around themes or activities that are important to Charlotteans (faith, children, food, appearances and sports) and are promoted through local media outreach, op-eds, blogs and online photo galleries at CrossroadsCharlotte.org.

For example, with Xchange Tastes, we leveraged food as a way to nurture new friendships and experience new cuisine, partnering with a food festival, promoting communal dining to inspire conversations and establishing new friendships by providing icebreakers, action cards and disposable cameras to capture the interactions.

In Xchange Sermons, over 40 religious leaders from various faiths left their congregations and spoke to the congregations of another faith — rabbis in mosques, priests in temples — connecting dreams of a more unified community with a message to act on faith and make that imagined place a real one.

Credit: Russ Communications