2010-04-29 / Letters to the Editor

Criticize coordinators, not Sen. Reed

I am writing in response to a letter that appeared recently in the Jamestown Press. That letter addressed a recent “community conversation” sponsored by Central Baptist Church.

Those of us who coordinate this ongoing series of public events have been intentional about the process we use for each conversation. The process involves inviting a speaker or panel of speakers to address a specific issue of national and statewide interest, such as health care reform or the economy. After the initial remarks, we invite audience members to submit written questions that a moderator poses to the speaker or panel.

Our purpose in using this process is to encourage civil dialogue, rather than allowing our community conversations to become forums for competing voices simply trying to drown out one another or individuals using the question-and-answer period to lecture others about their own point of view.

We are most grateful that Sen. Jack Reed accepted our invitation to speak and respond to questions about the state of the economy. We received far more written questions than we could reasonably ask that evening. Sen. Reed was generous in offering to respond in writing to those questions that were not addressed during the event.

We are open to feedback about our series of community conversations. Any criticism, however, about the format of the event – including the use of written questions rather than questions taken from the floor – should be directed to the coordinators of these events rather than at Sen. Reed.
Kathryn Palen
Central Baptist Church

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