Join your fellow Arkansans in discussion and dialogue on Zoom. Participants will not debate each other – quite the opposite. In small, randomized groups led by trained, nonpartisan facilitators, participants will evaluate and discuss three options related to a topic or issue. There is no charge to participate.
Past topics have included the partisan divide in the United States and how to jump-start our economy in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Issues Forum Guides provide a safe and structured experience for participants that will last no longer than two hours.
“Democratic practices are ways citizens can work together – even when they disagree – to solve shared problems.”Kettering Foundation
This partnership is led by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the Clinton School for Public Service, with content and promotional assistance from the Central Arkansas Library System.
“What should we do to ensure equal justice and fair treatment in our communities?”
The United States is in conflict, as most Americans demand change in the policing practices that are intended to create safer neighborhoods. In the spring of 2020, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks sparked nationwide protests as many citizens voiced their concerns about the unjust treatment of racial minorities. All three died during encounters with police, and their names joined a lengthy list: Eric Garner in New York City in 2014, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, MD in 2015, Philando Castile in St. Paul, MN and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA in 2016, to name only a few.
During this dialogue, participants were presented with three broad options for improving police practices and suggested actions that could be taken to make progress on each. As with all ideas for change, all of these actions involved risks and trade-offs as well as benefits.
“How should we make sure people have the food they need?”
That was the guiding question that was addressed during the Land of Plenty dialogues on food security. As a major producer of rice, poultry, and other food staples, Arkansans have an especially close relationship with the food system in America and around the globe. That’s why, as an additional bonus, these sessions featured a look at several Arkansas-specific options prepared especially for these dialogues.
“How will our nation recover from COVID-19? What will it take to rebuild a healthy economy after a pandemic?“
Those were the guiding questions for these Back to Work dialogues, whose purpose was to help people deliberate on how best to rebuild the economy after the 2020 pandemic left more than 36 million people without a job.
“How can we get the political system we want?“
The purpose of these inaugural pair of dialogues was to help people deliberate on how we should approach the issues of division and outrage that prevent us from making progress on urgent problems in the United States. Participants evaluated and discussed three options that could help heal our country’s partisan divide and give all Americans a way to move forward, together.
Are you interested in attending the next dialogue? Would your organization like to sponsor this program? Do you have a great idea for a topic you think we should build a dialogue around? Let Payton know!