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"The Conversation: Let's Talk About A Positive Portsmouth; Where Do We Go From Here."- Resident Leaders Leading Action in Community

A Call to Action for a Positive Portsmouth: Citizens Demand Change and Chart a Path Forward

Written by: Arian L. Tyler, Communications Director | Youth Ministry Leader

Flyer from the Conversation Event

February 19, 2024 - Portsmouth, a city steeped in history, brimming with potential, and facing undeniable challenges, recently witnessed a powerful display of citizen engagement.  Residents, leaders, and those dedicated to serving the community came together to grapple with pressing issues like crime, mental health, and economic opportunity. This spirited town hall meeting hosted by Bishop Barry Randall and Pastor DeAndre R. Carswell (The Prince of Peace Church) demonstrated a spirit of resilience and an unwavering determination to create a brighter future.

Accountability, Early Intervention, and Mental Health Lead the Charge

Throughout the evening, a resounding message emerged: the time for complacency is over.  Key figures like Mayor Shannon Glover,  Vice-Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke, community advocates like Bishop Barry Randall, and concerned residents all emphasized the need for greater accountability from city services and leadership.  Frustrations boiled over around issues left unresolved, highlighting the erosion of trust that can occur when citizens' needs aren't addressed.

The mental health crisis, particularly the devastating impact on young people, became a focal point.  Speakers like Rev. Lucretia Mason-Underdue, a passionate educator and mental health professional, stressed the urgent need for early intervention programs starting in elementary schools.  The lack of access to mental health resources, even for those employed to provide such care, served as a stark illustration of the depth of the problem.

image of the panel happening

Finding Solutions: A Spotlight on Portsmouth's “Solutionists

This town hall was not about wallowing in problems but about demanding change.  Participants proposed a range of solutions, demonstrating Portsmouth's wellspring of thoughtful, engaged citizens:

  • Investing in job skills training, economic development, and building pathways out of poverty, particularly for young people.

  • Prioritizing school safety, access to quality housing, and support for law enforcement – emphasizing that safe communities require both prevention and effective policing.

  • A citizen's call for stricter measures, like mandatory military service for those not in school or working, sparked a debate on the need for both opportunities and accountability.

  • Addressing gun violence and working with state and federal legislators to create change.

Pastor DeAndre Opens up the forum with a work of Prayer

Leadership on Trial: A Mandate for Competence and Compassion

There was a clear desire expressed for leadership that prioritizes the needs of the community above personal interests.  Residents demand officials who are fair, skilled and focused on delivering results.  Leadership stability, often lacking in Portsmouth's recent past, is seen as vital for the success of any long-term improvement plan.

Mayor Glover's Response:  A Pledge of Service

Mayor Glover, sharing his personal story of overcoming challenges through hard work, education, and giving back, underscored his belief that every child deserves a chance to succeed.  He vowed to continue fighting for a Portsmouth where all citizens have the opportunity to thrive.

Vice Mayor Lucas-Burke: A Call for Change

Vice Mayor Lucas-Burke echoed the frustration with gun violence, advocating for greater legislative action.  She also emphasized the need for better housing, safer streets, and robust support for law enforcement.  With her experience on the council, Vice Mayor Lucas-Burke argued for new leadership to bring a fresh vision to Portsmouth.

Resilience and Hope: Portsmouth's Path Forward

Image of Citizens and News Reporters follow the conversation

This town hall, marked by moments of raw emotion and unwavering determination, painted a picture of a community refusing to be defined by its struggles. Though challenges persist, hope shines through in the voices of those demanding better.  The path forward for Portsmouth rests on accountable leadership,  collaboration across sectors, and a focus on solutions that build upon the city's strong foundation and the unwavering spirit of its people.

Call to Action

  • Stay informed: Follow city council meetings, learn about the issues affecting your neighborhood, and understand how residents are impacted.

  • Volunteer time and skill: Donate to or volunteer with organizations offering mentorship, conflict resolution, and youth development programs.

  • Champion local businesses: Support Portsmouth's economy and promote locally-owned businesses and initiatives.

  • Connect with neighbors: Strengthen your community, get to know those around you, and support neighborhood watch groups.

  • Spread hope and possibility: Be a positive voice. Share the stories of progress and those making a difference in Portsmouth.

  • Join Portsmouth United: Support initiatives fostering collaboration between citizens, law enforcement, and community groups.

  • Support Grassroots Organizations: Research and donate to local organizations offering mentorship, conflict resolution, and youth development programs.

  • Advocate for Change: Contact your city council representatives, school board members, and state legislators to urge greater investment in solutions that truly serve the Portsmouth community.

Let's Keep the Momentum Going!

Share your thoughts in the comments below!  How can we build on the energy from this town hall? Together, let's shape a positive future for Portsmouth!

Click here to see Resident Leaders Leading Action in Community and watch the full video recording of the town hall. Click here for a full transcript of this event.


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