Orange County

Fight terrorism with DSI Comedy in Chapel Hill Wednesday night

An unidentified man kneels in Portland, Ore., on May 31 at a memorial for two men fatally stabbed on a light rail train in Portland last week. The men were killed and a third injured as they tried to shield young women from an anti-Muslim tirade.
An unidentified man kneels in Portland, Ore., on May 31 at a memorial for two men fatally stabbed on a light rail train in Portland last week. The men were killed and a third injured as they tried to shield young women from an anti-Muslim tirade. AP

As terror, violence and harassment grow overseas and at home, a group of local leaders wants residents to know they are not alone.

The group – #BuildingCommunityResilience – will join forces with members of DSI Comedy at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to listen to the concerns and talk about ways the community can be welcoming but prepared.

“We live in a world where lots of conflict is happening, and people are resolving or acting upon that conflict in a variety of ways, and that also causes stress and concern in people’s minds,” Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said. “This is intended to be a very free form, highly conceptual conversation.”

DSI artists will use vignettes that “highlight the absurdity of some behaviors while focusing on positivity and support” to spur the discussion of four concepts:

▪ Connecting with fellow community members

▪ Doing no harm while staying in your comfort zone

▪ Recognizing how to take care of yourself

▪ Practicing empathy to promote resilience

#BuildingCommunityResilience – an informal group that also includes religious and school leaders – grew from a desire for more inclusivity after three Muslim students were killed in February 2015, Blue said. The group’s focus in the last few years has turned to supporting everyone, he said.

The London attacks and the fatal stabbing of two men in Portland spurred them to hold a conversation about community support and resilience, he said.

“If you observe some kind of harassment happening, for example, what are some strategies you can use to intervene,” Blue said. “I could imagine we could touch on that a little bit Wednesday, but also wanted to gauge people’s interest for the next iteration of this discussion that might include some more practical kinds of application.”

Chapel Hill hasn’t been a stranger to violence, from Wendell Williamson’s shooting spree on Henderson Street in 1995 to the man who drove his sport-utility vehicle through the Pit on UNC’s campus in 2006.

While emergency responders train to deal with problems, or large-scale events and celebrations, it’s hard to predict when something will happen, Blue said.

The meeting acknowledges “that things happen all over the world that can resonate here locally, and in fact, things can happen right in your back yard,” he said. “It’s useful to contemplate that, and contemplate how we support each other and how we demonstrate empathy to our fellow community members, and to acknowledge that at a time of conflict and stress, we need each other more than ever.”

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

What’s next

The public conversation about community safety and resilience will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at DSI Comedy Theater, 462 W. Franklin St.

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