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Tupelo’s Link Centre celebrates creativity to build community

In December 2001, with the support of a diverse group of people, businesses, and community organizations, Link Centre opened on Main Street in Tupelo. Although at 17 years old, I (Melanie Deas) vowed to never return to Mississippi, I found myself saying yes to the role of Executive Director in January 2007. 

Link Centre is a multi-faceted place. It’s a nonprofit organization, a community partner, a landlord, an artist co-op, a transit center, an entrepreneurial incubator, an event venue, a storm shelter, a medical clinic, a referral service, an imaginative reuse of an historic property, a movie set, a neighborhood lighthouse, a creative academy, a sacred space – and a place where people with many different opinions on many different topics regularly cross paths. We proudly name “respectful,” “compassionate,” and “responsible” among our core operating principles. We are intentional about being a place of acceptance and art – something that doesn’t always make us popular, but we believe it does make us essential. 

We strive to build a community in which people and organizations could work together and learn from each other. In spite of our efforts, however, we continue to see people growing further apart. We seem to be finding less common ground. Particularly since the pandemic, we seem to be less interested in interacting with other people. Over the same period of time, multiple studies show that more than 75% of Americans are exhausted by political division and view escalating polarization as a threat to our country’s survival. These facts are what excited us most when we heard of the opportunity to partner with National Week of Conversation. 

We want to be part of the movement to provide people opportunities to take positive action to reverse the troubling trends of polarization. We believe that the best way we can do that is by acting on a hyper-local scale. Indeed, this is where Link Centre thrives. Our vision is to “Celebrate creativity. Engage partners. Build community. Enrich lives.” These principles are similar to the values that ground National Week of Conversation. 

Like others across the country, we believe in building a better community; and Link Centre’s programs depend on people being willing to gather in public. We consider it an honor and a responsibility to offer art as a way for our community members to explore their differences while uniting in common activities. For these reasons, we are proud to offer two opportunities to come together, share a meal, and begin a conversation about how we might build a better North Mississippi. 

This year, Link Centre will screen two Better Together Film Festival selections; the first on April 16, featuring “LIST(e)N”, the second on Wednesday, April 17 featuring “Purple: America, We Need to Talk”. By providing one evening screening and one lunchtime screening, we hope that we can reach as many people as possible. 

We invite you to join us. We are ready to listen. 

Join us at Noon on Friday, April 19 for a VIRTUAL lunch and learn session exploring tools to make us better listeners, and in turn, better equipped to engage in meaningful conversations across differences.

The session will be led by Dr. Graham Bodie, professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Media and Communication in the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

This event is free and open to the public. Register to receive more information.

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