In an earlier post, I told you about a series of community forums WHYY/NewsWorks will be sponsoring to discuss the long-term options facing the Jersey Shore post-Sandy.
The forum series is called “Ready for Next Time?: Rethinking the Shore After Sandy.”
Here a link explaining how to register to attend one of the five events.
It’s a project underwritten by the New Jersey Recovery Fund. While WHYY is the lead organization, our partners in the effort include the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, Creative New Jersey, Sustainable Jersey, the Citiizens Campaign and Jersey Shore Hurricane News.
In a lamentable timing glitch, when I wrote the first piece over the weekend, we had not nailed down all the details of the forums later this summer down at the Shore, so I didn’t have full details.
Now I do, so without further ado, here they are:
Monday, July 15 – WHYY, 150 North Sixth St., Philadelphia – 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30
Tuesday, July 30 – Middle Township High School, 300 East Atlantic Ave., Cape May Court House, 6:45 p.m., doors open at 6
Monday, Aug. 5 – Atlantic Cape Community College, 5100 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing, 6:45 p.m., doors open at 6
Tuesday, Aug. 27, St. Francis Community Center, 4700 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach Township, 12:45 p.m., doors open at noon
Tuesday, Aug. 27, Tuckerton Seaport Museum, 120 W. Main St., Tuckerton, 6:45 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m.
Details are still being worked out, but we also plan to hold a training workshop for citizen journalists who want to cover Sandy-related issues some time in October in the Toms River area. That will be a joint effort with the Citizens Campaign.
Each forum is free and open to the public, but we do ask that you pre-register (we’re ordering refreshments and hiring professional moderators to guide the discussion, so we do need a good crowd estimate in advance).
Similar registration pages for the other forums will be ready shortly.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the forums:
Who is allowed to come?
Anyone with a stake in the future of the Shore, as a property owner, business owner, vacation visitor, or New Jersey or federal taxpayer. The more voices, and the richer variety of voices, the better.
What type of forum is this? Who’s speaking?
You are. This is a deliberative dialogue, not one of these meeting where panelists or politicians speak for an hour, then a couple of people get to ask questions from the audience before the conveners call it a night.
These are small-group discussions, 15-20 people, chairs in a circle, people speaking out about their personal experiences, their hopes and fears, their values, their ideas.
Sounds like it might be a free-for-all. How do you prevent that?
We work with our long-time partners at the Penn Project for Civic Dialogue to create a written framework to guide the discussion and help people think about the issues. The discussions are led by moderators trained and hired by PPCE. Their goal is to make sure some solid work gets done, everyone gets a chance to speak, and even unpopular views get a fair hearing.
Discussion framework? What’s up with that?
Building off of decades of work in civic dialogue by the National Issues Forums, we’ll distill the buzz of ideas about what do down the Shore into three distinct options, or choices. You’ll get a chance to talk through all three choices in detail, saying what you like and don’t like about each, and adding your ideas as we go.
I have a statement I want to make about what’s been going. Can I?
Yes and no. We don’t want to slow down the dialogue with a bunch of prepared statements. But we will have a sound-off board and an opportunity to give short video testimonies that will be collected and curated for posting on NewsWorks.org.
I’m not an expert on planning or engineering. What can I contribute?
You’re an expert in your experiences of living at or visiting at the Shore. Only you know what hopes and fears you have about the Shore’s future. That’s expertise that this conversation needs.
Civic dialogue is nice, and all that, but what’s the real point? What difference will it make? The politicians and powerful interests will do what they want anyhow.
These dialogues are not occurring in a vacuum. The yield from the forums will be handed off to other partners doing work under the New Jersey Recovery Fund, to inform their diverse efforts to give ordinary people an effective voice in the future of the Shore. These include Creative New Jersey, the Citizens Campaign, Sustainable Jersey and others.
Similar projects we’ve done with PPCE as a partner in the past have had real impact on planning for the Central Delaware riverfront in Philadelphia, the redesign of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Philadelphia zoning code and the Philadelphia city budget in 2009.
What do I have to bring to the forum? How do I prepare?
Just bring yourself. Of course, if you want to bring two or three friends to share the experience, that’s even better. If you pre-register, we’ll send you a copy of the discussion framework, with the three choices laid out in some detail, ahead of time. If you can scan that and think about it a bit before the forum, so much the better. Other than that, just come ready to talk about your experiences, hopes, fears and ideas.
So who’s bankrolling this little caper? How do I know there’s not some hidden agenda?
WHYY received a grant from the New Jersey Recovery Fund to plan and hold these forums. The recovery fund is a joint effort of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, the Dodge Foundation and the Knight Foundation.
The only agenda here, as far as I’ve been able to tell, is to help everyone who has a stake in and cares about the Jersey Shore to have a good, useful conversation about the best ideas and best steps for responding to the lessons of storms such as Sandy and Irene.
A lot of good people who care a lot about New Jersey are pulling together to make these forums a valuable experience for those who take part.
I really hope you’ll think about coming, and share the word about the project with anyone you think might be interested in taking part.