Our second meeting of the Guild for Civil Politics took place on Sunday, 3/19/17, with 11 participants, 6 of them first-timers.
Doors opened at 3:30PM. A few of us gathered to share a little conversation with light fare and drink.
The meeting started at 4PM. After sharing our names, we reviewed our work from the previous month, and agreed on the proposed agenda for the meeting.
David (that's me!) read from Sebastian Junger's 2016 book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. The author tells the story of a conflict over ownership of a plastic viking helmet which he witnessed at a bar in San Fermin during the running of the bulls. With an act of creativity the hat was transformed into a goblet, filled with red wine and shared as an act of reconciliation. Soon the hat was forgotten, and the opponents had become friends. The story illustrates the potential of transcending conflict by affirming communal values. As we contemplate our "rules of the road" I hope we can make room for this transcending, transformative potential.
We decided to relegate the review of rules to a subcommittee, who will return next month with a proposed set.
In the meantime, David (that's me!) shared these hoped-for values-for-the-road, some of which are necessary to Paradise Community Guilds:
• Civil = Mutually constructive. Expect differences, share your view, be positive.
• Dialogue = Open to something new. You might change your mind.
• Ideas are not people + People are not ideas. (Bad ideas ≠ Bad people.)
• Paradise Community Guilds is non-partisan / non-denominational
• Focus on the issues rather than the parties, politicians or candidates.
Some complained that they hadn't received notice for the meeting. An email notice was sent out on 3/12, and again on 3/19. Also, there is a new web page and blog for the Guild for Civil Dialogue that advertised the meeting. Nonetheless, these are new efforts and can be improved. An email signup list was circulated and we'll make sure all attendees addresses are included in future email outreach.
Participants expressed a strong desire to grow this Guild and to maximize its influence; and they were concerned that our marketing efforts were falling short of the aim. Others mentioned the support of the Paradise Chamber of Commerce in promoting our meetings, and the recent Chico ER editorial that praised our effort.
Future efforts will include posting in other online calendars, Eventbrite, as well as occasional press releases and broad emails to our Friends of the Guild list.
Pivoting to our main topic, we first watched a two minute Data Download segment from the 3/19/17 broadcast of NBC's Meet The Press, titled "Is Big Data Destroying The U.S. Political System?" Chuck Todd showed a correlation that explains how the rise of demographic/psychographic modeling in the early 2000's has helped campaign and issue marketers mobilize voters in the middle of our politics to the left and right since then, hollowing out the middle. We recognize that the messaging we get from those who use these techniques is slanted. We must search out the facts for ourselves.
Susan Dobra then led us through a discussion on how to find and agree upon the facts, supported by a handout with a variety of helpful sources (which should appear below this post).
Of particular note was this guidance from Ask Leo! (Leo Notenboom):
First: Understand the problem.
Second: Be skeptical. Always.
Third: Do the work (research).
Fourth: Build a network of more trusted (info) sources.
We recognized the work necessary to get to the facts in our ever-spun media culture. We then went around the room and each named our usual sources of info, listed with a few comments below:
Politifact.com • FactCheck.org • Democracy Now! (on KZFR) • Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) • Newspapers (generally speaking), both conservative and liberal columnists • Bill Maher (HBO) • Talking to people • Late night show monologues (that was a joke, sorta) • KZFR's Chris Nelson and Sue Hildebrand • NPR • Free Speech TV with Tom Hartman • Huffington Post • Local news • Friends on the internet • Lost faith in mainstream media • Mother Jones Magazine • New York Times • Washington Post • Eugene Robinson (WP) • Lawrence O'Donnell (MSNBC) • TheSixtyFive.org • The New Yorker Magazine • The Atlantic Monthly • Harper's Magazine • John Oliver (HBO) • The Bible / God • The more authoritative, the more dangerous • Thoreau said today's Bible is the newspaper • Politics is about rulers • Columbia Journalism Review (CJR.org) • Center for Public Integrity • Breitbart.com • DailyDrudge.com • TheBlaze.com • Mediaite.com • DailyCaller.com • TheDailyBeast.com • Buzzfeed.com • Fox News • PBS News Hour • Hardball with Chris Matthews (MSNBC) • All In With Chris Hayes (MSNBC) • Facebook • TheIntercept.com • Paradise Post • Chico Enterprise-Record
We recognized the challenge this plurality of information sources poses to agreeing on the facts.
We wrapped up a little after 6PM with an agreement that at our next meeting we will review the subcommittee's proposed "rules-of-the-road," and chose as our next topic, "Getting past disagreement to understanding."