NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — He set out to make a change his neighborhood, but now Shawn Dromgoole is taking his message of bringing neighbors together to cities beyond Nashville.
There was a time where walking down 12th Avenue South, drew the type of attention Shawn was trying to avoid. These days, when Shawn walks, people follow and for all the right reasons.
His “Walk with Shawn” drew crowds of nearly 300 people last Thursday, as neighbors began learning more about one another.
“They’re talking to each other, not even about me. They’re becoming a community. The community is strengthening within itself,” said Dromgoole
The more word spread, the more Shawn realized there are other neighborhoods out there where black men just like himself, feel trapped in oftentimes gentrified communities.
Read any one of the several dozen comments to the since viral videos and it’s clear Shawn tapped into something people may have heard of, although it’s rarely spoken.
“People are becoming familiar with their neighbors which was the goal. We want people to be able to know their neighbors because if I know you as my neighbor, you’re not threatened by me and I’m not threatened by you,” said Dromgoole.
Just as word traveled fast around Nashville, the same happened around the country. Shawn received messages from neighborhoods in Georgia, Minneapolis, Denver and Philadelphia.
In each note, people described their experiences and how they mirrored what they heard Shawn had endured before speaking up.
Days where walking down the street was bound to trigger a NextDoor post, with people asking about a suspicious person down the block.
It doesn’t happen nearly as often anymore for Shawn, but it’s the idea that it keeps happening elsewhere that motivates him to help any way he can.
Shawn has raised more than $5,000 through his GoFundMe account.
It’s about a third of his goal, but Shawn says it’s enough to begin buying tickets to some of these neighborhoods out of Tennessee.
Wednesday morning, he booked a flight to Philadelphia for a walk on July 4. His hope is to eventually organize a walk in a different city, every week.
For those interested in hosting Shawn, you can send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shawn’s next walk is scheduled for 6:30 P.M., beginning at Green Hills Family YWCA. 4041 Hillsboro Circle.