The quality of public dialogue in Richmond

I'm a strong advocate of the general concept that good dialogue can work wonders for resolving conflicts, building community, and improving the world we live in. (That's dialogue instead of, say, violence, explosive angry yelling, paternalism or monarchy, snap judgments, knee-jerk fear-mongering, heated debate, or silence and avoidance.) As a result, I am constantly aware of the need for better dialogue in my own community of Richmond, Indiana, and for venues that facilitate that practice. I would go so far as to say that Richmond is, on the whole, handicapped by the poor quality of public discussion about the issues that matter to us, and that addressing this handicap is one of the opportunities most ripe for the picking in our community today.
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Search for more jobs requires driving vision

In an editorial today, the Palladium-Item called for Richmond and Wayne County to embrace job growth in the retail and service sectors, as opposed to the manufacturing sector. I generally support their call for an intentional focus on facilitating the kinds of economic growth that Richmond needs, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they address the difference between the immediate concerns of the unemployed ("if you are without work...there is little reason to scoff at any kind of paying job") and the obligations of those working on economic development to focus on a longer-term vision ("a carefully crafted plan for attracting select retail and services businesses can build upon important quality of life factors locally"). This is a distinction often passed over in our community and many others; the most prevalent calls are usually for bringing in any jobs at all, no matter what the benefits and long-term impact on the community.
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Bits and Pieces from Vacation

A few bits and pieces: I've recently returned from a great vacation. I took some of my time off to explore a few Richmond-area touristy type things that I haven't gotten to see yet, including a thorough tour of the Wayne County Historical Museum. They have quite an impressive collection, and I learned a lot I didn't know about this community. As a result I had one of those great moments of cosmic unity: I'd enjoyed reading about the history of the Wayne Corporation which was headquartered here in town. On Thursday, I was in North Carolina climbing onto a converted school bus for a whitewater rafting trip with the Nantahala Outdoor Center and thought to look at the bus's manufacturer label, and sure enough, it said "Wayne - Richmond, Indiana". Cool! (BTW, if you're ever looking for an awesome place to vacation in western NC, check out Earthshine Mountain Lodge - amazing place, people, and food.) And just a few months ago I was touring the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago, and noticed that the metal winches used to open and close the glass panels were labeled "Quaker City Steel Works - Richmond, Indiana." Wowsers - this place really made a name for itself. Speaking of Chicago, I did several other museum tours there this time around, including a nice walkthrough of the Adler Planetarium (though the show "Stars of the Pharaohs" was minimally fascinating) and the Chicago Historical Society's exhibit Without Sanctuary, a visual history of lynching in America. The images of communities - men, women, children - laughing and smiling as they gathered to celebrate death were indescribably haunting. And finally, to end on a note of humor, if you haven't already, check out the June 22, 2056 edition of The Onion - hilarious.