A top Hollywood screenwriter and nearly 200 Charlotte-area residents convened at the Neighborhood Theatre Wednesday night to talk about concrete ways each local citizen can get involved in making the city a better, more inclusive place to live.
The event, “We’re Listening: A Community Discussion to Activate Causes We Care About,” was one of a series of meetups that Beau Willimon, creator of the Netflix political drama House of Cards, is holding in cities across the country. At the two-hour Charlotte meetup, Willimon – together with his Action Group Network co-creator Ivey Baker and co-host Stephen Graddick — encouraged audience members to stand and talk about issues that are important to them. Those issues ranged from women’s reproductive rights to environmental responsibility to forging relations among people of different races, religions, gender identity, or political views.
In the second hour, the audience split into smaller groups of people with similar passions — and made plans to begin meeting regularly to come up with concrete actions.
Williman, a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton during the presidential election, was inspired to launch the Action Group Network in the wake of the wildly different feelings aroused by Donald Trump's win. Willimon's idea was to encourage people to move beyond complaining on social media and actually begin organizing groups that can effect change. He plans to take his meetups to major cities in all 50 states.
“We do not aim to dictate the agenda of any group,” AGN’s mission statement reads. “Each action group will work independently. They neither speak for nor act in the name of any other group or organization, including the Action Group Network.
“We do ascribe, however, to the principles of inclusivity and respect,” the statement continues. “Any group or individual which engages in communication or actions we deem to be racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or in any way bigoted or aggressive, will not be welcome here.”