'Civility Roundtable' hopes to foster respect
The Tucson, Ariz. shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords brought the nation together in a state of shock and mourning. Shortly thereafter, President Barack Obama made a stirring speech and implored us to usher in a new era of civility, respect and understanding towards our neighbors.
The President asked Americans "to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully" and to "remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together."
This got me thinking about how we can improve the civic dialogue on a local level. Thus, the Civility Roundtable participative discussion series was conceived.
Most people agree that civil discourse is necessary for encouraging greater participation in political and civic discussions. The Mountain View Civility Roundtable is a forum designed to bring people together to discuss important issues to Mountain View citizens and to do so in a way that promotes civility. The goals are threefold:
• To bring civility, trust, and a greater sense of common cause to public discussions of the urgent problems we collectively face;
• To promote a shared responsibility and involve more Mountain View neighbors in the work of building a stronger and better city; and
• To reach these two objectives by engaging citizens in constructive discussions.
The inaugural conversation will focus on corporate and business responsibility in Mountain View and include representatives from Google, Meyer Appliance, the Mountain View/Whisman School District and a local neighborhood association. An interactive dialogue model designed to maintain civility and promote decorum will be led by Chris Block, CEO of American Leadership Forum — Silicon Valley. The four representatives will be sitting in a circle, colloquially known as the "the fishbowl," in the middle of the Mountain View Senior Center surrounded by the audience. The conversation, as conducted by Mr. Block, will flow back and forth between them.
Democratic governance requires participation, deliberation, collaboration, and inclusiveness. The Mountain View Human Relations Commission is chartered with helping the city and its residents address various economic, political, educational, and social issues. The Civility Roundtable is specifically designed to do just that. We may not always agree, but we never have to be disagreeable.
The roundtable is set for Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 6:30-8:30 p .m. The Mountain View Senior Center is located at 266 Escuela Avenue. The event is free. Drinks and light snacks will be available.
Ken Rosenberg is a member of the Mountain View Human Relations Commission.