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Building Community Through Civility

WILMINGTON, N.C. (December 16, 2015) – Building Community through Civility. WRAR President, Sherri Pickard, addresses the public and association members through this letter about how teamwork has played in integral part of her year serving as President and how it has shaped the Association.


Building Community through Civility

by Sherri Pickard, President, Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®


Teamwork has played a major role in my life from being a high school coach of three sports, to a collegiate basketball coach, and now leading an office with scores of real estate agents. No two people are alike, and by understanding that nothing of any significance in America’s history has ever been done by an individual—it underscores the critical need to work together despite differences. This year I’ve served as the President of the Wilmington Regional Realtor Association and the theme for the

year has been “teamwork.” We’ve accomplished much as the result of adopting an attitude of teamwork. One example was REALTOR® Action Day on April 7th, where the Association mobilized over 400 members to serve the community through fifteen service projects.

Working together, however, is never easy. All of us feel bruised and frustrated by the partisan gridlock in Washington, Raleigh, and our local area. Currently, we are debating the Special Use Permit (SUP) in New Hanover County. Both sides have strong opinions about the permitting process, and have enthusiastically presented their position. At each end, we have conservative thinkers who would like to eliminate the SUP because of the belief that it is severely hampering Wilmington’s ability to attract industry/jobs to our area while those with deeply held conservationist beliefs are satisfied to see big industry locate elsewhere. We could leave it “there” but “there” will not position us for the future growth that is at our doorstep. Who’s right? Who knows? Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Really? I believe it is important that the first step be both carefully thought out and in the right direction. The problem lies in deciding what direction. Therein lies the value of great leadership and an informed constituency.

The Association is both conservative and conservation minded. With over 2,250 members in Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, Duplin, and Sampson counties representing over 1,500 small businesses, we are the largest professional membership organization in the region. We have Democrats in our ranks who stand next to Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents alike, all cooperating daily to help people realize the dream of homeownership. We are not “non- partisan” but rather multi-partisan. Manygroups organizedue to ideological similarities, but REALTORS® are not limited in this way but stand together as a profession through the desire to promote home-ownership and the protection of private property rights.

We occupy a unique space in the community that is rarely visited by elected officials but most populated by citizens: the middle. This is the space De Tocqueville wrote about hundreds of years ago when he noted that one the great characteristics of America is her ability to compromise—not compromise in principal but compromise in working together to solve problems.

I have had the privilege this year to sit in many meetings and coalitions where very talented and passionate people seek to understand the best way forward for our region, to accomplish economic growth while being good stewards of the abundant natural resources we are blessed to enjoy on a daily basis. The hope of the Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® is to model the art of civility as we all, earnestly, seek the next best step. Great things can be accomplished in the Cape Fear Region through teamwork.

The Association will continue to be part of the discussion, but mostly we will continue to seek to be part of a collective consensus on the next best action that helps us accomplish the vision of a robust and thriving regional economy while always respecting and cherishing the beauty of the area we are blessed to live in. There will always be debate on how to accomplish such a lofty goal. Civil discourse is imperative to engage the broader community while bellicose rhetoric only serves to disenfranchise the multitude.

To that end, the Association is seeking to create, with other interested partners in our community, a high level forum that will allow both sides of an issue to be presented in the public square, modelling civility while embracing the spirit that an informed community is the beginning of finding real solutions. In this way, we as citizens have the opportunity to become more knowledgeable on the issues, can choose to find and stand on common ground, without regard to political position, as a team.




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