A September 29, 2020 Harrisonburg Citizen article by Katelyn Waltemyer and Kara Dillard describes a community's search for a better way to talk together and subsequent plans for upcoming online forums that use an online deliberation platform called Common Ground for Action (CGA) to help people deliberate about approaches to difficult and sometimes contentious public issues.
The article, titled Think we're too divided to address big civic issues? Try this, begins by describing a search for a better way to help citizens talk about issues:
When we began a project this spring to study if Harrisonburg and Rockingham County residents could find common ground on contentious, politicized and polarized issues, we were nervous that we might find what we feared: the Valley is too politically divided to solve its more pressing problems.
Compelled by what we saw happen in Waynesboro City Council meetings this January where over 400 people, mostly on the same side of the issue, demanded the city become a Second Amendment sanctuary without debate, we wanted to know if there was a better way to have a conversation on guns, rights, and security.
The article goes on to describe how the CGA forums are organized and run and why The Citizen got involved:
In these politically divisive times, it’s uncommon to see a news organization host, partner and promote an event involving politics. After speaking with The Citizen, we became aware that it values civic engagement so much that it wants to encourage its readers of all political affiliations to discuss and engage with each other about how to address problems central to our community.
This is our attempt to partner with a media outlet that was created for the purpose of increasing civic engagement in Harrisonburg and to help the community work through tough conversations.
The article also includes a brief video featuring James Madison University students talking about their experiences participating in deliberative forums.
The Citizen has plans to host two online CGA forum on policing reform on October 12 at 6 p.m. and on October 17 at 12 noon.
Click here to read the full article.