According to Wikipedia, the round table is a form of academic discussion.
Participants agree on a specific topic to discuss and debate. Each person is given an equal right to participate, because of the circular layout usually used in round table discussions. (You may have a more scintillating definition of a round table discussion.)
Arguably, it is not necessary to have a leader. However, the Knights of the Round Table did have King Arthur.
The purpose of my column today is to suggest that we engage in more of this type of exchange of ideas in the community. This is not the first time I’ve called for more discussion and debate.
Triplicate Editor Richard Wiens wrote a great column, “Start the Conversation,” back on Dec. 15, 2010. He was responding to a suggestion I made when I visited him the first time. Since then, I’ve pestered him from time to time, and he is always very approachable and responsive.
Of late, I’ve been pestering Ron Cole of Gateway Education. I think he’s a great teacher and a deep thinker. He developed the disc golf course in the park (I’ve had three lessons from him), and he’s also involved with a summer youth camp, Pastels in the Park, and Found Agate Theater Company.
Ron attended a recent local meeting put together by Building Healthy Communities and others, which was held to determine the kinds of services for youth that are available outside of the school district in Del Norte County.
Twenty-four organizations were present at the meeting, and 12 categories of services were discussed. Ron selected five categories that were part of Gateway’s program: leadership development, supporting mental and emotional health and self-awareness, teaching life skills, community volunteering, and supporting physical health.
I asked Ron to help me generate some round table discussions. He said we needed to choose a topic, such as the film, “Freedom Riders,” to be shown in the mall behind Chere’s Boutique on Jan. 17. So I went to the film and got names and numbers of people who would be interested in discussing the “Freedom Riders,” perhaps in comparison with Occupy Wall Street.
However, I didn’t sense much diversity in the group. We need to hear from those of you who are interested in joining us to point out perhaps the stark differences between the “Freedom Riders” and “Occupy Wall Street” or just offer other applicable views about the differences and similarities between then and now.
Another topic for discussion was offered by Dan Potts, president of the Student Senate at College of the Redwoods. He suggested we show and discuss the Robert Reich film, “Inequality for All.” Everyone is talking about that subject, President Obama especially and even the Pope.
A small group of us met with Potts at College of the Redwoods on Jan. 6 to discuss showing the film. The group included Dr. Everett Allen, formerly at the prison and currently working with a group of troubled veterans at the Veteran’s Hall; Dr. Robert Sankus, retired physician formerly at the prison; and county Supervisor Roger Gitlin.
Potts is a Libertarian and does not necessarily agree with everything Robert Reich does, but he was impressed with the film when he saw it last summer at a pre-screening in Hyde Park. The Roosevelt Institute paid for him to go back there to attend a seminar and watch the movie.
The Roosevelt Institute chapter Potts belongs to is out of Humboldt State University. The organization is not about right wing, left wing. It’s about progressive thinking in the millennial generation (18-to 25-year-olds) “to get them out of that door-knocking, poll-taking mentality that college students have always been relegated to, learning to think outside the box, and starting to write and create policy.”
Potts said he tries to stay in the middle. “There has to be a way to change things There has to be someplace we can come together and figure out the medium point.”
Gitlin said the Board of Supervisors doesn’t have anywhere near that kind of mentality. He said there is too much rancor.
“The noise replaces the substance. The same mentality starts right up in Washington and down through Sacramento and right here to Del Norte County. Listening is an art form.”
Potts said when he went to Hyde Park to see the film, he was a staunch right-wing Republican. “But I talked to some millennials to see what their issues were and how they’re addressing things. I’m not a millennial. I’m 46 years old, the X-generation. I represent the demographic they’re missing within their organization. I’m the new type of college student.
“Robert Reich breaks down what the problem is and why there’s so much economic disparity in the U.S. Why does 1 percent of our population have so much control over everything? He makes a heartening plea, and he asks some very good questions. He wants people to wake up and start asking those questions themselves. Too many people are walking around in their sleep. It takes a lot of critical thinking and leaving the ego at the door.”
I also mentioned the need for more diversity and debate at a recent Tea Party meeting, and Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen said he thought more people with opposing views should be invited to the meetings. Sheriff Dean Wilson said that a majority of the members register as “declined to state,” regarding party affiliation.
I believe If the meetings are set up to encourage discussion, that kind of exchange could be very helpful
I am happy to say the Tea Party is doing exactly that tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds Floral Building.
The event is the “State of Jefferson Declaration Town Hall Meeting.” Organized by Aaron Funk, it will be a panel discussion and question and answer session. The SOJ Declaration Committee leaders include Mark Baird, Terry Rapoza and others. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.