It's time to eat stuffing and pie and celebrate the season of love, sharing and consumerism. But let's face facts: Charlotte is dealing with a lot of issues that Santa Claus can't fix with a stocking stuffer or the latest iPhone. From the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board shutting down 10 schools to double-digit unemployment, our community is wishing for more than just your typical holiday fare. Creative Loafing spoke to some diverse voices in the community — from activists to politicians and more — to find out what's on their holiday wish list for the Queen City.
Carson Dean, executive director of the Charlotte Men's Shelter (www.mensshelterofcharlotte.org): "For the Men's Shelter to have the financial resources to take care of every homeless man throughout the holidays. Secondly, for the community to finally come together to once and for all end homelessness. And a third one is for everyone in our community to do a random act of kindness to someone they don't know."
Jeff Doctor, former District 9 U.S. House of Representatives candidate, managing partner of CDK Strategies: "I hope that as a city, no matter which party you belong to, that we will get the Democratic National Convention here. That's not because it's Democrats or anything, but it is a good thing for the city as a whole. It will help Charlotte escalate itself into an even more prominent role on the national level. I also hope that we can get our education system worked out; from the federal level all the way down to the local level. And see our leaders work with a united goal and show a united front and put a focus on the children of the area and give them the best arena to be able to learn. And finally, that the [Carolina] Panthers would have a better season."
Cindy Thomson, coordinator of the Charlotte chapter of the National Organization for Women (www.charlottenow.org): "I would want women to be safe. And for them and their children to have what they need to live, shelter and food. There are so many women struggling right now that I feel we wouldn't have poverty if women made a living wage. If there wasn't discrimination against women, they'd be able to support themselves and their children and we wouldn't have a poverty issue at all. And I would wish that women were free to make choices about their reproductive health, that they can live their lives freely the way they want to live."
Scott Provancher, president of the Arts and Science Council (www.artsandscience.org): "It is our wish that members of and visitors to our community appreciate Charlotte-Mecklenburg's cultural community and the important role it plays in enhancing our quality of life ... that members of and visitors to our community continue to explore, experience and participate in the cultural offerings that are here and become inspired. It is our wish that our donors continue to help fuel the cultural community by supporting our 2011 Annual Fund Drive, which will focus on restoring funds for arts, science and history curriculum-based education programs for students."
Robert Kellogg, co-founder of Gaston County PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays): "The first one is that I would wish for a more tolerant community, which embraces all people from all walks of life, including the growing LGBT community of the greater Charlotte area. And I wish for a political climate that allows for all voices within our communities to be heard and appreciated without prejudice. And I would wish for true peace and understanding for all people in the Charlotte Metro area in the tradition of Jesus, who taught his followers that, 'whatsoever we've done unto the least of these, we have also done unto Him.'"
Carol Hardison, executive director of the Crisis Assistance Ministry (www.crisisassistance.org): "My wish, the first thing is warmth and comfort for all of our neighbors. I would follow that with hope that everyone in our community would know that there are people who care deeply about them and their well-being. The third thing would be that I would wish that those of us who are more fortunate will find understanding of what to do for those who need us at this time. We all go though cycles. Maybe I'm in a position where I can help someone this holiday season, next holiday season, I may be in a position where I need help."
Dorothy Alexander, New Beginnings' transitional employment coordinator (www.charmeck.org): "Zero unemployment. Housing for the homeless and child care for those in poverty. There are parents who are trying to work and don't have childcare; they need vouchers to meet childcare needs. Those are my wishes: Employment, housing and child care."
Rodney W. Moore, incoming N.C. House representative, District 99: "I wish that we could have a civil and meaningful conversation about educational opportunities for all children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, regardless of where they live or what their ethnicity may be. All children are important, and they should be given access to a quality, balanced 21st century education, no matter where they live. The second thing would be that we come up with some solutions to our homeless situation here in the city and the county. Children make up a very big part of the homeless population; we need to be mindful of our children and our homeless during this time of the year and provide some type of supportive services for those individuals. The third thing is that we can continue to attract new industries and new opportunities for small business and entrepreneurs in the area — and we can find a way to retrain our displaced workers and get them prepared for these new industries that are coming and get them the training they need to fill those positions once they come online."