Saturday, February 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Let's help Jessica's civility spread further

| January 31, 2024 1:00 AM

Sometimes we really don’t know what we’ve got ‘til it’s gone.

In the case of Jessica Mahuron, let’s hope the void she’s creating by leaving our community is quickly filled by similarly constructive souls.

Last week, The Press published a letter from Jessica, Civic Engagement Alliance founder and president, and co-signed by the group’s five board members. In perfect Mahuron style, there were no inflammatory remarks or denigrating comments. Nothing smacked in the slightest of a self-serving sentiment. Since she formed the Alliance almost six years ago, Jessica has only ever been about pulling local people together rather than ripping them apart.

In announcing that she and her family are moving to Virginia and the Alliance is being disbanded, Jessica asked citizens — newcomers and longtimers alike — to fill the small nonprofit’s footprint by dedicating “energy to any community-based organization that brings people together in healthy dialogue and community action.”

While Civic Engagement Alliance was small from a budget perspective, its impact far exceeded its financial bottom line. The Alliance was a force in voter registration drives. Jessica and her team organized a number of community conversations and panel discussions, all built around the idea of opening dialogue and overcoming differences for common benefit.

But there was even more to her mission. Floods of Kindness Cards bore the Alliance's fingerprints, and marginalized residents by the hundreds — they know who they are — had no better ally than Jessica and her team. 

For those six years, it seemed that the Alliance was in some ways a community baku — a mythical Japanese creature that eats nightmares. Jessica Mahuron is the rare spirit who can convert nightmares to pleasant dreams to real-life cooperation. Her departure and the Alliance’s dissolution represent a barrier to desperately needed community building, but it doesn’t need to play out that way.

By devoting your time, talents and treasure, in Jessica’s words, to other proactive local groups, dangerous divisions and divisiveness can close and heal. 

She’s done her part. Let’s do ours.