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Springfield Network To Launch ‘Tough Talks’ Forum October 1

Francine Pratt with student and President Clif Smart

 

Starting Thursday, October 1, a series of conversations called “Tough Talks” will roll out online for Springfield community members.

 

Tough Talks started about seven years ago. Francine Pratt, director of nonprofit organization Prosper Springfield, worked with MSU professor, Lyle Foster, to organize a place where members of the Springfield community could discuss current issues and advocate for change. Conversations on race were held on the Missouri State campus during the 2014 Ferguson riots, but the talks stopped shortly after.

Pratt says she and Springfield’s public information and civic engagement director, Cora Scott, revisited the idea last year after the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce took community leaders on a leadership visit to Lexington, Kentucky. There, they heard of a “courageous conversation” series. That prompted Pratt to start a collaborative with Springfield businesses and organizations to discuss community issues.

It was meant to launch in March, but after being pushed back by the COVID-19 pandemic, the series is premiering October 1 online.

“We do have mechanisms in place that people can feel comfortable talking," Pratt told KSMU. "And they can choose whether they want to share their identity or not, so that they can still share their story and still feel comfortable.”

Pratt says they’ll have a diverse range of community leaders present at the talks, which will help community voices be heard. And, according to Pratt, those leaders will be in a position to make positive change.

“From those topics, we’re going to pull, what are the issues that require regulatory change that maybe the city council has to address? What are the issues that are impacted with higher ed, or with the school district, or with business?"

The topic for the first Tough Talks conversation is called “ERacism: Action Toward Positive Change.” It’s hosted by Drs. Lyle Foster and Leslie Anderson. You can watch the livestream and participate at prosperspringfield.org, or on Prosper Springfield and the City of Springfield’s Facebook Pages. To participate, you can call the Community Partnership of the Ozarks at (417)-888-2020.