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Notes from KUER's listening tour: 'There's more than one Ogden'

Brian Albers

If there was one thing KUER’s Ogden Listening tour panelists emphasized at our inaugural meeting on Feb. 1, it’s that there is not simply one Ogden.

As Amir Jackson explained, “Ogden is made up of many communities who all have different desires and needs ... The best way to know what’s important in any group is to go directly to that group and ask them what’s important, rather than assume.”

Other panelists echoed Jackson’s sentiment.

Barry Gomberg reminded the group that the Ogden of 2022 is a very different place than it was 15 or 20 years ago, stating that it has “undergone one of the most dramatic transformations in the state.” As home to Utah’s second largest Latino population, Gomberg asked, “How are we serving that community?”

It’s a question KUER has made special note of.

Jackson’s follow-up to that question was an important point for KUER and, indeed, all organizations. He reminded us that, “human connection is a way to demonstrate authenticity,” and that we should be “working with them and not for them. It’s not always about making room at the table, but giving up your seat so those people can lead.”

Ogden, it seems, has been thinking in these terms for a while.

Christina Hernandez said that Ogden does a good job of blending things together – for example, bringing the arts together with other organizations.

Karen Fairbanks stated that, “Ogden is good at working together. Organizations get together and sort out their turf in favor of larger issues and getting things done.” She said that in Ogden, as elsewhere, “collaboration is key.”

Todd Oberndorfer offered this specific example from his work with the Dumke Arts Plaza.

He’s been working on the engagement team, and helped run a community engagement plan, which he said, “did dig as deep as we could with the community, fielding ideas to better understand what they want to see in the plaza.” He felt that the support and collaboration they had with other organizations helped make the venture successful.

Moderator Joaquin Alvarado said these collaborative relationships, especially with arts organizations, are key to helping news organizations find stories and find people to cover. He also said that it can be beneficial to look at the existing partnerships that are already in place.

As the discussion moved from topic to topic, a number of panelists cited Ogden’s growth and the area’s changes — both physical and cultural — as crucial to understanding the city, with Tim Vandenack stating, “Growth in the area is a huge story in this area.”

Wendy Ogata cited transportation issues that plague the area, specifically problems on Riverdale Road and I-15.

A few panelists recommended KUER learn more about Ogden’s history to help us better understand its present, with Christina Hernandez recommending the Weber Historical Society and Karen Fairbanks the Special Collections at Weber State.

But it was Amir Jackson who made the strongest argument for learning more about Ogden’s past, telling the group that the city has a vibrant and rugged past and people. The question he invited us to consider was, “How does that inform who we are today? Who will be remembered in 50 years as the innovators of our time?”

We look forward to hearing more from you on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Register for the free online event here.

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