Engaging with our community on important issues can be a challenge.
Between work, school, and all the other events filling up your calendar, it’s not always an option to attend public meetings and forums. Ones held in the evenings are a little easier. But those public meetings held during 9am-5pm work hours? It’s not like the boss is letting you come in late for that one.
Some us turn towards social media. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as much as anyone else. But it’s dangerous to rely on just it as a primary source for information and conversations in our community. We shouldn’t trust an algorithm with our community’s future.
Picking up a paper or listening to the podcast here is great for learning. But it’s not really practical for contributing back to the conversation.
Letters and emails to public officials are a way of getting closer to that public conversation. Those are relatively easy ways of sharing your thoughts. But it’s tough to have an open and transparent community conversation that way.
There’s got to be a better way, right?
Enter the Open Forums
You’re not a spectator and politics are not a game. You’re a citizen who gets a say in the future of our community. That comes with a responsibility though – to stay informed, to debate honorably, and to forge consensus on moving forward. The more informed we are, the better community we create. It’s all about being informed instead of just opinionated.
We can do that through better conversations. And my hope is that Open Forums will help those happen.
When important issues in the community come up, I’ll open up a page on that topic. It’ll lay out the issue, some starter questions on things our community should consider, and give us all a chance to talk through things in an open, civilized way using the comments on that page.
Ground Rules Going In
Open Forums gives our community a place for a thoughtful, open, and civilized debate. To live up to that, there are a few guidelines in place:
- Use your real name – Anonymous comments are removed.
- Add Value – A comment which does not add to the conversation, runs off on an inappropriate tangent, or kills the conversation may be edited, moved, or deleted. All SPAM comments will be deleted because they do not add value to the site.
- No Personal Attacks / Offensive Remarks Permitted – In the interest of civil discourse, no personal attacks or offensive remarks are permitted in our comments. Comments containing obscenities, threats, hate speech, material that’s ethnically or racially offensive, abusive remarks, and spam will be removed.
- Comments will be closed after 60 days – That way we’re having current discussions. We can always pick up a previous issue again as a new open forum post.
- You can find the full Comment Policy here.
In short, show kindness, respect, and civility to everyone that you talk to in this conversation. Don’t automatically assume their viewpoint or intentions. Community discourse requires thoughtful, open, and civilized debate. That happens best when we’re human to each other.
The biggest advantage of text-based communication like comments is the chance to stop and think about what you’re saying before you say it. Take time and speak persuasively, not abrasively.
Selecting Issues and Topics
I do my best to stay in the loop on decisions and issues being discussed in the community. But like you, I’m human and bound to fail at times. That’s why you can submit your own issue for discussion here.
A Few Last Things to Note
First, these open forums are entirely community driven. There’s no affiliation with either the City of Fayetteville or Lincoln County governments nor any public officials.
Second, I don’t know if this will even work. I hope it creates a space for constructive and civil conversations. I hope that it’ll make us smarter on the issues. But I can’t know for sure if it will. It’s an experiment so we’ll see how it goes!
Last, if you’ve got questions, comments, or just want to chat, drop me a message!