With support of the American Press Institute, the Mississippi Free Press is about to launch three physical solution circles over the next three months in three counties in our state focused on bringing people together in conversation across divides and beyond partisanship to talk about community concerns and potential solutions. Our first stop is Jackson on Nov. 9, just after our state election, in the New Horizon event space at 1750 Ellis Ave. at Interstate 20 (no walk-in; must register). What better time to get people together to talk about common concerns? We all care about public safety, for instance. What solutions might respectful dialogue and deep listening yield? How can our citizenry work together? Let’s find out.
If you aren’t familiar with solutions circles, community members gather to identify challenges that affect them or their neighbors daily, like health care, public education, need for opportunities or public-safety concerns, or whatever issues emerge from each gathering as a focus. Because who better to talk about solutions to community problems than the people who are most affected, which are Mississippians like us?
Our approach is the opposite of panel discussions. You lead these respectful conversations; everyone has an equal voice. No one drowns out anyone else.
Our editors, reporters and writers are often in these conversations. They are there to listen, and I mean listen. They listen deeply and might ask clarifying questions, usually after the circle, but that’s it. There are no bad ideas, and all are welcome. There’s no hierarchy in our circles. My Big Pappa from Clarke County would say it doesn’t matter if you are a potentate or a pauper. (Some of y’all just googled potentate, didn’t you?) We want every section of the community to join in. Jackson is our first circle, and people from throughout the Jackson metro area are welcome. You’re about to see a lot of us around Mississippi.
Each circle lasts about two hours, and we feed you hearty snacks. Let’s just say Donna Ladd and I have never underfed anyone. We hold
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