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Making Public Meetings Work for the Public

11 January 2011

CNYSpeaks and FOCUS Greater Syracuse to Host A Forum on Civil Civic Discourse
Free Public Event to be held at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Feb . 18, at City Hall Commons

CNYSpeaks and FOCUS Greater Syracuse want to collaborate with YOU — the citizens of Central New York — to find ways to make public hearings and meetings more civil, constructive and productive.

(Mike Greenlar / The Post-Standard) Participants at CNYSpeaks events like the one pictured sit at small tables and work with fellow citizens and trained facilitators to brainstorm ideas and identify solutions to community issues. We'll be using this format on Feb. 18th to explore how we can make public meetings more civil and constructive.

Combative school board sessions and angry town hall meetings on health care have obscured the fact that public officials and citizens must work together to solve the complex problems we face here in Central New York and across the country.

Yet public officials are given little guidance on just how to structure public meetings to ensure that citizens are heard, and citizens have little guidance about how they should behave at those meetings to ensure that their interests are understood and that the meetings are safe and productive.

On Feb. 18, FOCUS Greater Syracuse will devote its monthly Core Group meeting to exploring this topic, with the goal of hearing from citizens about how they believe public meetings can be better designed to be productive, civil, and effective.

The forum, which is free and open to all, will run from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at City Hall Commons, 201 E. Washington St., Syracuse.

Participants will work in small groups with trained facilitators from the CNYSpeaks Initiative and the Maxwell School’s Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration to discuss questions such as:

  • Why do people go, or stay away from, public meetings?
  • What do public meetings that “work” look like?  What do such meetings accomplish? What processes are used?
  • How should public meetings be designed to be more inclusive, productive and constructive?
  • What are the minimum standards of behavior required of citizens — and officials — to have successful public meetings?

Please join FOCUS and CNYSpeaks as we tackle this important issue, and thank you in advance for helping us spread the word about this event. Again, it’s free and open to all. There is no registration required. The event will start promptly at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, and be over by 9. Coffee will be served.

For more information, please contact FOCUS at (315) 448-8732 or CNYSpeaks at or 315-730-4621.

[Both CNYSpeaks and FOCUS are nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations. CNYSpeaks is funded by a Chancellor’s Leadership Grant administered by the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University.]

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 January 2011 9:51 am

    Here’s the full text and video of Obama’s speech in Arizona yesterday —

    I like how he avoids directly linking or blaming the shooting on angry political rhetoric, but still makes a powerful plea for a civic discourse that heals rather than wounds.


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