Thursday, November 11, 2010

Informal Forum (11/19/2010): Democracy's Challenge

Fed up with politics and a widening partisan divide?

Frustrated by the lack of civility in public conversation?

Feel like a spectator rather than a participant in politics?

What has gone wrong? What should we do about it?


Democracy's Challenge: How can we reclaim our public role?
When: November 19, 2010, 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Where: Russell Library Auditorium,
West Entrance, Main Library, UGA campus (detailed directions below)

Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia (, a civic engagement program of the Russell Library hosts community deliberative forums on a monthly basis to explore challenging public issues in a deliberative, civil way.

About this month’s forum on partisanship and polarization...
"There's a feeling of dissatisfaction in the country. People are fed up with politics turned into blood sport and frustrated that they can't seem to make progress on public problems. Many feel besieged by a coarsening of culture and find that they are less inclined than ever to trust each other. As a result, Americans by the millions are turning away from public places like the proverbial town square where people come together to solve problems. Turning away from the public square hasn't left most Americans feeling any better. The bonds that knit us together are frayed. Whether it's Washington D. C. or on Main Street, we're pulling apart from each other. Politics has hardened into a partisan divide that fewer people are willing to cross. Polls show that people are suspicious of others' motives, and fearful of strangers. We live such separate lives that our neighbors are often strangers. " [excerpted from the National Issues Forums Institute's Democracy's Challenge Issue Guide]

A Different Kind of Talk…
In this community forum we will explore this complex issue by working together to understand the issue better. With help from trained neutral moderators we will look at several possible approaches to meeting the challenges posed by the current fragmentation of public life in the United States and consider both the benefits and consequences of each approach, as well as possible trade-offs. Finally, we will explore possible actions that might make a positive difference in our community. Throughout the forum we may find some areas of agreement among us, just as we will likely clarify areas where our beliefs and perspectives differ greatly. This robust and civil threshing of the tough public issues that we face is the foundation for vibrant and resilient community.

About the issue guide…
This forum will use the deliberative issue guide developed by the National Issues Forums Institute in association with the Kettering Foundation. If you are interested in learning more about the issue before the forum, you can watch a short overview video HERE.

How to Find the Russell Library (Parking, Bus access, walking)
Russell Library ( is located in the University of Georgia Main Library Building just off South Jackson Street in Athens, GA. Parking is available in the North Campus Parking Deck also on South Jackson St. Athens Transit and UGA Bus Service both serve the main library via the bus boarding zone on South Jackson Street.

The Russell Library maintains its own entrance on the West side of the Main Library building. Follow the path/steps down the right side of the main library building (the west facing side) and down the stairs to access our door. If you need handicapped access, please go to the main entrance of the Library and check in at the security desk.

For more information about this forum, please contact Jill Severn at 706-542-5766 or For more information about Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia, visit

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