Earlier tonight, I tweeted about the Worcester Community Dialogues Listening Sessions on Race. You can see my tweets @legalbiscuit.
With the spike of racial tensions across the country, as witnessed by the violent-race-related deaths, the City of Worcester decided to take pre-emptive action and start an ongoing dialogue between community members and leaders. The hope is that this open dialogue will prevent future race violence in this geographic area.
The seven part series started on Monday, May 18th. These listening sessions take place every Monday night from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. They are facilitated by the US Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
I went to my first listening session tonight. The theme was “Media and Online Social Networks.”
When you arrive at the listening session or community dialogue, you are assigned a number. Brief introductions are made in the main foyer area. Then, participants are divided equally among different listening sessions or break out groups. You converse with your group for about an hour and a half. The group facilitator leads the group discussion through a series of race-related questions. The questions vary week to week and focus on the theme for that session. Then, the notetaker in the session synthesizes and summarizes the discussion into a 2-3 minute presentation. At the end of the listening session, all participants converge into the main foyer again. Each break out group has one person present their group’s discussions to the main audience. Closing remarks are then made.
Also, importantly, they feed you dinner at the event.
The remaining listening sessions, locations, and themes are listed below: