Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do You Have Ideas About Civilizing Political Talk? Here's How to Share Them

This is in some respects a follow up to my previous post, "Missing Culpa?" 

The plans for the event described below have been in the works for months prior to the Arizona shootings, but if you have ideas for making public conversations about politics more civil and productive--or are just interested in participating in a civil conversation about this topic--please consider joining us on February 18 at the City Hall Commons for this public deliberation event co-sponsored by CNYSpeaks and Focus Syracuse (full disclosure:  I am a co-director of the CNYSpeaks project).  It should be a fruitful and affirming discussion. 

Below is the full press release for the event.

Contacts:                                                                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chuckie Holstein, (315) 448-8732                                     Jan. 12, 2011
Tina Nabatchi, (315) 443-8994

Making Public Meetings Work for the Public: A Forum on Civil Civic Discourse
Work with fellow citizens on February 18 to identify the elements of constructive public forums

Syracuse, NY – Please join us at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, February 18, at City Hall Commons for a forum on how to ensure civil, constructive public meetings.

Combative school board sessions and angry town hall meetings on health care have obscured the fact that public officials and citizens must work together to solve the complex problems we face here in Central New York and across the country.

Yet public officials are given little guidance on just how to structure public meetings to ensure that citizens are heard, and citizens have little guidance about how they should behave at those meetings to ensure that their interests are understood and that the meetings are safe and productive.

On Feb. 18, FOCUS Greater Syracuse will devote its monthly Core Group meeting to exploring this topic, with the goal of hearing from citizens about how they believe public meetings can be better designed to be productive, civil and effective.  

The forum, which is free and open to all, will run from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at City Hall Commons, 201 E. Washington St., Syracuse.

Participants will work in small groups with trained facilitators from the CNYSpeaks Initiative and the Maxwell School’s Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration to discuss questions such as:
·         Why do people go, or stay away from, public meetings?
·         What do public meetings that “work” look like?  What do such meetings accomplish? What processes are used?
·         How should public meetings be designed to be more inclusive, productive and constructive?
·         What are the minimum standards of behavior required of citizens — and officials — to have successful public meetings?

Please join FOCUS and CNYSpeaks as we tackle this important issue, and thank you in advance for helping us spread the word about this event. Again, it’s free and open to all. There is no registration required. The event will start promptly at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, and be over by 9. Coffee will be served. More information on the sponsoring organizations can be found at and

The public is welcome to contact FOCUS at or (315) 448-8732, or CNYSpeaks at or 315-730-4621, for more information.

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