Madison chapter to again host Berea State of the City speech

In 2017, the Madison County chapter hosted a groundbreaking State of the City Address in Berea that changed the culture of this annual event.

Previously, the event had been held during business hours and was hosted by the Berea Chamber of Commerce, which used it as an annual fundraiser.

After conversations with Mayor Steve Connelly, the chapter was given the opportunity to re-envision the event and make it more welcoming and inclusive of many folks.

Chapter members moved the event to the evening, made it free, arranged chairs in a circle so folks could face each other, and created a panel of local residents who talked about why they chose to live in Berea. The mayor gave his annual State of the City Address, and folks had the opportunity to ask questions.

“Having attended State of the City meetings in the past, I can honestly say that this one felt much more inclusive and interesting,” said KFTC member Becca Parrish after the event last year. “It served its purpose in educating us about ongoing issues and concerns.

“But, more than that, I left the meeting feeling much more connected to, and proud of, my community. KFTC did an excellent job of bringing together various constituencies and helping us learn more about our city government.” After the success of last year, chapter members were excited to host the State of the City again this year.

Set for Friday, February 16, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Acton Folk Center, the event will follow the theme “To Berea With Love.”

One of the chapter’s goals for the event is to bring together Bereans from a variety of backgrounds and political views to reflect on what they all value and want for their community.

The panel will feature local people whose job or volunteer work focuses on love and service to their community. Folks who attend will have the opportunity to create a valentine expressing what they love about Berea.

In the weeks before the event, chapter members will set up boxes in schools, workplaces and community spaces across town to invite folks to make valentines, and all the valentines will be delivered at a Berea City Council meeting.

The State of the City will be emceed by a community member and begin with an introduction to KFTC and an invitation to attend a KFTC event later. Folks will again sit in a circle and have the opportunity to ask questions.

The event is free and open to the public, with free childcare available. Transportation can be provided upon request.

For those who can’t attend, the State of the City will be live-streamed on the Madison County chapter’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/MadisonCountyKFTC).