Carter salutes Community Renewal, BPCC partnership

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(Courtesy of Tom Pace) Former President Jimmy Carter was greeted with a standing ovation while visiting BPCC last week to give his blessing to the BPCC and CRI partnership. Carter was in Bossier-Shreveport to celebrate Community Renewal.

Submitted by Tom Pace, Special to the Press-Tribune

It’s not every day a former president visits Bossier Parish, but former President Jimmy Carter stopped by last week to catchup on a partnership between local entities.

Carter was greeted with a standing ovation at Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), as the former president joined Community Renewal International (CRI) founder Mack McCarter for a special reception for a new partnership forged with BPCC ealier that week.

The effort will be known as the Center for Community Renewal (CCR), starting this fall.

Former Byrd High graduate, and Secretary of the Navy under President Clinton, John Dalton introduced Carter to the audience that included Mayors “Lo” Walker and Cedric Glover, along with State Sen. Barrow Peacock, State Rep. Henry Burns, State PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell, and many others.

Looking very spry at the age of 90, the 39th President of the the U.S. and Nobel Peace Prize winner, charmed some 100 VIP’s in attendance with stories about his growing up in Plains, Georgia, being a fifth cousin to Elvis Presley, as well as somehow being related to Johnny Cash’s wife, June Carter.

During his speech inside the Emmett E. Cope Student Services Building, the President saluted McCarter on the 20th Anniversary of his creation of Community Renewal International, and his vision for such a global initiative.

Earlier in the morning, BPCC Chancellor Jim Henderson and CRI Associate Coordinator Mike Leonard had signed a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement in the Chancellor’s Boardroom that created the Center for Community Renewal being housed at BPCC. That CCR agreement also committed the necessary BPCC resources to launch and grow the endeavor.

Chancellor Henderson also applauded the work of CRI, saying this collaboration will allow for the model of their Friendship Houses to expand both locally and globally.

“We value the partnership with Community Renewal International,” said Henderson.

“This is an historic moment for CRI that is the fulfillment of a vision stretching all the way back to 1984,” says Mack McCarter, CRI founder.

More than 190 communities from around the world have traveled to Shreveport/Bossier to see the CRI model of Mutually Enhancing Relationships (MER) at work.

All of these visitors leave wanting the model for the places where they live and work. Replication is already in process in several cities.

It was also announced that former architect Kim Mitchell, is the new director of the Center for Community Renewal.

Spanning a successful career of 37 years, Mitchell looks forward to the development of the CCR.

“Becoming part of the team drawn to this work is a privilege,” says Mitchell. “CRI’s emerging social technology changes people and communities in amazing systemic ways. We have just begun to tap the positive potential of this work.”

Tom Pace is Executive Editor and Radio Host of the “Talk of the Town.”