EDITORIAL: IndyTalks gives the public a civil way to speak up

December 26, 2009

There’s no shortage of opinions about what our city and state need to do to prosper in the 21st century. But much of what comes across is screamed in blogs or in stinging press releases issued by political parties whose only purpose is to paint the opposition as out of touch.

As we enter the new year, a coalition of organizations is working together to provide a forum for constructive, civil dialogue about the future.

IndyTalks—a collaboration of the Athenaeum Foundation, the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana Humanities Council and several other organizations—is sponsoring a series of monthly discussions at venues around the city where the public is invited to share ideas and build consensus about some of our most challenging problems. (Visit www.IndyTalks.info for a complete list of sponsoring organizations and more information.)

Using author Richard C. Longworth’s 2008 book, “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism,” as a starting point, participants will have an opportunity to participate in a series of discussions surrounding the question, “What is the future of Indiana and the Midwest?”

IndyTalks will begin Jan. 13 when WFYI-FM 90.1 airs a live radio interview with Longworth. Subsequent discussions will range from the role of economics and politics to faith, education, heritage, the arts, and even food practices in our collective futures.

Participants are encouraged to do more than listen—they are encouraged to talk, offer ideas, and create solutions. The idea is to keep the conversation going by using the IndyTalks Facebook page and by heading to the Athenaeum’s Rathskeller for monthly conversations on the issues raised during the IndyTalks series.

Several of the programs sound intriguing, especially the last one: “Hoosier Values: Can we Reconcile Independence and the Common Good?” That October discussion seems to sum up the difficulty we’ve had locally—and nationally, for that matter—making progress on thorny issues, such as government reform, while retaining the independent streak Americans—and Hoosiers—are known for.

Up to now, attempts at reform have gone nowhere. And there isn’t likely to be much progress on government reform or other issues in the short session of the Legislature that’s about to start. If positive change is to take place, it will take a grass-roots effort to break the logjam. IndyTalks could be the catalyst for just such an effort.

If this particular attempt to spur civic—and civil—dialogue isn’t your cup of tea, by all means find another constructive way in 2010 to become involved in finding answers to the problems that are holding us back.•


To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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