This year’s annual Q Commons Siloam conference challenged local leaders and John Brown University students to think about uncomfortable issues, such as racism and immigration in America, in order to build leadership skills.
Q Commons Siloam is a part of the bigger organization, Q, founded Gabe Lyons to reengage Christians in redeeming the culture around them.
“Q is an organization that is focused on helping Christians to better engage in our culture, and Q Commons works to localize that concept with leaders in the community,” said senior Erin Morningstar, who attended the event.
Held on Feb. 27, the theme of the night was to advance the good by learning to view situations from different perspectives. The night included presentations from three local business owners and three national speakers who communicated via satellite.
Lyons welcomed everyone and introduced the first national speaker, Malcolm Galdwell.
Galdwell is a Canadian journalist and bestselling author. During his presentation he spoke about the theory of legitimacy.
He said that when people feel that they are being treated legitimately, they will interact and comply. He discussed this theory specifically when it came to Ferguson, saying that despite what people may feel about the interaction, the fact that a whole city rioted for weeks shows that they felt that they were not being treated legitimately.
“True leadership begins with true authority, which comes from legitimacy,” Galdwell said.
Michelle Viney, the Northwest Arkansas Home Resource Directory owner and publisher, spoke after Galdwell. Viney emphasized the importance of volunteering.
“Advancing the good looks like voluntarism to me,” Viney said.
Another local speaker, Syard Evans, is the deputy CEO of Arkansas Support Network, a non-profit focused on providing support for people with disabilities.
Evans spoke about the “audacity of privilege” and the need for each of us to recognize our privilege in society and relinquish it. She discussed white privilege and its implications on society as well as the privilege of education.
Broadcasting journalist Soledad O’Brien presented, via satellite, on the topic of race in America. She shared the story of her mother and father and their struggles as an interracial couple, and she outlined the history of slavery and how it carries over into today. O’Brien ended by challenging the audience members to confront the part of American history they like to ignore.
“We cannot advance good if we do not confront bad,” said O’Brien before she left the stage.
Lyon returned to the platform to do an interview with television producer Mark Burnett. Burnett is a six-time Emmy award winner, the creator behind The Voice, Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice and other highly rated TV shows.
Burnett discussed the need for virtue in entertainment, but added that creating virtuous entertainment should be executed with excellence.
“Being overtly Christian does not give you an excuse to produce crappy work,” Burnett said.
The night ended on a very sweet note with Mark and Meaghan Feyerabend. They not only own a photography studio and a custom frame shop, but also an ice cream shop called Pure Joy Ice Cream.
They challenged the audience to really consider what makes a business Christian. They asked what it means when a company declares that they are a Christian place.
Senior Nick Carson said the event was a “nice recap of a lot of questions that are present today, like race and how to respond to authority.”
“They discussed these issues on the global level and then localized it,” Carson said.
“This was a very good way to discuss local and national events. It looked at issues from a business and social perspective and then brought it back to a Christian perspective,” University graduate student David Ruales said.