Rotary Club of Canby Hosting Summit for Community Leaders

A diverse group of community leaders will gather this week to share a meal, a bit of fun and conversation about how to move Canby forward in divisive times.

Dubbed the first-ever Canby Community Summit, the event is being organized by The Rotary Club of Canby, its current president, Ray Keen, and past President Cash McCall.

“Our mission directs Rotarians to promote peace,” Keen explained. “We sense a need for gathering community leaders around a meal to promote peace in Canby.”

The invite list boasts a wide variety of community movers and shakers, including representatives from city government, the police department and fire district, school district, churches, civic organizations and businesses — more than 50 different groups in all — as well as elected leaders from the Canby City Council and School Board.

Still, Keen stressed the event will be completely non-political.

“This is not a political event,” Keen said. “It does not involve swaying power or shifting political momentum in any way shape, or form.”

Instead, the purpose is “strengthening mutual respect and community connection through conversation.”

“This is a relational process of Canby’s leaders getting to know one another better, laugh together a little and remember the common goals that we all share,” Keen explained.

“We know this one event will not eliminate conflict in Canby, but we hope it can be the beginning of collaborative problem-solving and deepening the personal respect between leaders.”

In Keen’s mind and those of the other organizers, stronger relationships between leaders — especially those who come from different political ways of thinking, religious tribes or other backgrounds — equals a stronger Canby.

“One thing that we really hope to do is help our community leaders cultivate curiosity regarding views about Canby that may differ from their own,” he said. “We are not trying to change anyone’s beliefs, but rather, broaden our understanding of one another.”

The event will take place Friday night at the Willamette Valley Country Club. It will include hors d’oevres and dinner, compliments of Rotary and other sponsors, with live music by acclaimed pianist and composer Michael Allen Harrison.

One of the centerpieces of the event will be facilitated table discussions in which leaders will be asked questions like “In Canby, what values would you like to see shared or strengthened for future generations?”

The answers will be collected and summarized at the end of the evening for the whole group.

While the vast majority of attendees will be from Canby, Keen said there will also be a few leaders representing other communities, who will be there to observe and consider how such an event might work in their towns.

To hear more from Keen about the Canby Community Summit, check out Episode 308 of the Now Hear This: Canby podcast, “Conversation Peace”:

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