Spearheaded by Gleannloch Farms resident Christina Hudson, the inaugural event drew an attendance of roughly 75-100 people and was held at the Gleannloch Pines Golf Club. Hudson said she felt inclined to start a conversation with her neighbors about diversity in light of recent events, including the death of Houston-native George Floyd, who died while in custody of police in Minneapolis.
"I moved here because I thought I was protecting my kids because we live in a bubble," Hudson said during the event. "We moved here to protect them from the outside world so that they didn't have to experience the things that are happening in this world. But I guess over the last several weeks, I've realized that I can't protect them. And if I can't protect them in the bubble then I need to get out of the bubble, and now I'm stepping into the world and hopefully we can make a difference."
During the event, members of Hudson's unity event committee as well as attendees shared their experiences with racism and how it affects their lives on a daily basis.
"I didn't want this to be about politics, ... black lives matter, all lives matter ... police brutality ... It's about changing people's hearts," Hudson said. "This is about coming together as a community and saying that we stand for one another. This should be our circle of trust to have this safe conversation, but yet, a very difficult conversation that we have avoided for 400 years"
In addition to speakers, the event also included booths from local businesses, children's activities and food. Hudson also gave a presentation on the history of the Juneteenth holiday and held a candlelight vigil for individuals who had lost their lives as a consequence of racism.
Although the event remained peaceful throughout the evening, Hudson said she was met with some resistance when she first introduced the idea to her neighbors.
"When I first tried to get this organized, there was so much resistance from my neighbors," she said. "They did not want this to happen in their community. And it made me sad. I've raised two boys here for the last 16 years. I live with three black men—my two sons and my husband—and their lives should matter."
Despite initial resistance, many Gleannloch Farms residents and local businesses showed up to support the event, including Signarama Cypress, which is owned by Gleannloch residents and husband and wife Marius and Sandy Mutayoba.
"We wanted the community to be aware that this is happening," Marius Mutayoba said. "This is a great community, and we moved here here because we thought it was a great community, and it still is. But for a great community to be even better, things like this have to happen. I feel like this is the beginning of taking this community to the next level."
Hudson said she was hopeful the event would become an annual fixture in the Gleannloch Farms community.
"This is a very affluent community," she said. "There are a lot of small business owners that live here that have the opportunity to really make an impact on the community because they can hire minorities, they can sponsor mentorships, [they can] help give people resources and work opportunities and a better education. It really can be a game changer if we change the hearts in this community because they're a powerful entity. So if we can change their hearts, we can make a powerful punch."
A video-recap of the event by Sadalia Ellis Photography can be found below: