BASE President and CEO Tyler Newman was one of 34 distinguished leaders from Brunswick, New Hanover, Columbus, and Pender counties selected to participate in the Cape Fear Leadership Forum, an important program on how to increase access to adequate housing in the region. Offered by the North Carolina Leadership Forum (NCLF), a program of Duke University, NCLF seeks to develop a critical mass of civic and political leaders who have the will, skills, and relationships to engage constructively with others of different political parties or ideologies.
Beginning in January, the group met face-to-face four times over five months, concluding on May 16th in Pender County. The cohort of diverse policy leaders were balanced across political party and sector, and included county commissioners, mayors, housing advocates, developers, and others contributing in meaningful ways to the region’s success. Meetings operated under the Chatham House Rule in which participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. This “ground rule,” along with others, created an environment of trust and enabled participants to focus on having honest conversations and build relationships with people outside their usual network. Participants discussed their concerns, including the inadequate supply of rental and homeowner housing, the cost of development and how zoning rules and the permitting process slow down housing projects, and how to address opposition to further development. The group also identified affordability, respecting property rights, and ensuring communities are inclusive to all as key values that come into tension in debates over housing in the area. Deliberating the downsides and benefits of policies allowed participants to deepen their skills in constructive engagement, thereby improving their understanding of others’ deeply held views and revealing actions with broad support for further action. At the final meeting, many participants noted the importance of listening and made a commitment to reach out to those who think differently from them. The full list of participants and more about NCLF can be found on the NCLF website