Monday Memo: Sept. 13, 2021
Twenty years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, the images we saw from the streets of New York City on our computer and television screens seemed surreal, and yet, they were real. First responders and everyday people became the casualties of horrific terrorist attacks on American soil. Still today, we remember the mothers, sons, daughters, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, colleagues and heroes of 9/11.
Tragedies such as 9/11 remind us of our vulnerability and our frailty, and at the same time, they remind us of our innate sense of community and our resolve as a nation. We came together to mourn, to console and to honor. Today, my hope is that we, Americans and allies, persist in our belief and in our fight for freedom, justice, truth, reconciliation and peace.
Durham Tech Celebrates 60 Years
On Thursday, Sept. 9, Durham Technical Community College kicked off a year-long celebration of “60 Years of Impact” with the dedication of the William G. Ingram Center for Applied Learning and Technology Building. Because the center is focused on technology, rather than a ribbon-cutting, we observed a “wire-cutting.”
Board of Trustees members—past and present—elected officials, students, staff, faculty and friends gathered under a tent on the lawn. Speakers took us back in time and talked about the visionary people who founded the institution, and their visions. We also heard about the success of current programs, such as the Durham Tech Promise and plans to meet the needs of 21st century industries, such as life sciences.
Notably, in 1961, Durham Tech opened its doors to all people regardless of race or color, the late Phail Wynn, Jr., was the first Black community college president in NC, and Durham Tech started the first office of equity and inclusion in NC.
Harm Reduction and Cultural Humility
Our Orange County Sheriff’s Office continues to seek alternatives that offer more effective ways to assist and support individuals yearning to get their lives back on track. On Friday, Jesse Bennett, Executive Director of the NC Harm Reduction Coalition, gave a presentation to the Orange County Justice Advisory Council (JAC) on the importance of Harm Reduction and Cultural Humility. NCHRC “is a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to the implementation of harm reduction interventions, public health strategies, drug policy transformation, and justice reform in North Carolina and throughout the American South.”
Meeting people where they are and understanding diverse social backgrounds are important elements in the strategy to help people engaged in high-risk activities, such as drug use and sex work. The presentation at JAC meeting gave us more awareness of the scope of work in progress by our OCSO and local law enforcement agencies to improve the well-being of our community members and our community as a whole.
This critical work includes providing Medication Assisted Treatment (suboxone) and peer support to individuals with substance use disorders incarcerated at the Detention Center, as well as law enforcement-assisted diversion from the criminal justice system where treatment and harm reduction interventions are more appropriate. Law enforcement and criminal justice stakeholders recognize that these efforts will increase healthier outcomes and improve public safety for Orange County.