One of the things I've gained during this campaign is a new appreciation for how challenging it can be to produce and facilitate a meaningful and substantive political debate that is valuable to voters. Between the spring primary and the general election, I can think of at least eight events where myself and some combination of other candidates for office were asked to debate (or converse, or discuss) the issues facing Richmond and Wayne County for an hour or more.
At each event, as a candidate I've tried to balance a series of (sometimes competing) goals for my participation, including:
Last night was the second scheduled event during the general election cycle when candidates for an at-large position on City Council got together to answer questions from people in the community about issues facing Richmond. More so than the Chamber-sponsored debates last week, I thought the questions posed by attendees revealed a lot about what's on the hearts and minds of members of our community.
We were asked about education, access to affordable housing, how to pay for proposed improvements in City government, the local Latino population, the community's relationship with its workers, what we can do to keep more college graduates here, whether Council members should be injecting themselves into private business decisions, and more.
But I think the one question that was probably most piercing for all of us was from Toivo Asheeke, who asked what we as Council members would do to restore a sense of hope and empowerment to people who live in Richmond. It's a huge, important, emotional question, and as Toivo was quoted as saying in today's Palladium-Item, our answers as candidates were indeed "insufficient."
As candidates running for one seat on a 9-seat local legislative body in a small city in the Midwestern U.S., it might be tempting to shrug off the call to play a role in restoring hope and empowerment in our citizens. And politicians should rightly be careful to make promises they can't keep - if you believed the statements that sometimes came out of President Obama's election campaign, for example, as soon as he was sworn in there was going to be so much hope and empowerment flowing in the streets we'd choke on it; how's that working out for us?
But I do think restoring hope and a sense of empowerment is something City Council can impact here in Richmond, and that's what I said last night:
Jason Truitt, Online Editor of the Palladium-Item newspaper here in Richmond, recently asked what readers are looking for when they ask for more "local news." My response:
For me, a good local news story is one that reflects the things that are happening and the experiences people are having in and around our city and county. For it truly to reflect a local point of view, the story should include the perspectives, thoughts and emotions of local people, and preferably be written by someone who has a local context for (even, dare I say, a personal investment in) why those things might matter. Continue reading "What constitutes good local news coverage?"→
This post is about one way to have a more enjoyable experience in online discussion forums in general, and I'm going to use the forums at the Palladium-Item, a local daily newspaper in Richmond, as an example. I'll show you how to rediscover the pleasures of online discussion by simply blocking out the posts by people you don't care to hear from...all in three easy steps.
Right now, the Pal-Item has a troll infestation. Ewwwww. And it's not just the obvious kind either (though there are plenty of those). They've also got the kind that like to spread negativity, hate, oppression and self-referencing, oversimplified explanations of how the world is and should be, all under the guise of participating in some sort of great online community experiment. Which means it can take one or two reads of a post and a few seconds of brain processing time that you'll never get back to realize that you're dealing with a troll - who has the patience for that?