If you could tell a story about your community, what would it be? Would others be surprised to hear it?
These questions kicked off a two-day community conversation at the Mountain View neighborhood library. Hosted by the Forum, in partnership with the Mountain View Community Council and Journalism That Matters, the gathering brought community members and media together in a new way aimed at exploring the relationship between individual stories and broader narratives.
Friday evening, over dinner prepared by Mountain View’s West Berlin restaurant, participants shared personal stories that shaped their lives. Many of the stories shared challenged typical narratives surrounding diverse individuals and socio-economic groups. The following day participants utilized Open Space social technology to engage in conversations they identified as important to them. Using the word “riveting” to describe the two-day gathering, one person commented: “The experience was thrilling and gave me more of a voice.” Another reflected on the potential of intimate human connection saying “We can change the unchangeable together.”
This programming was part of the "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As part of the initiative, 49 state and local humanities councils across the United States have been engaging members of their communities to discuss how Americans gather and assess the information that allows them to be active and responsible participants in the democratic process.
Programs range from community conversations to public forums and lectures, teacher institutes to student workshops, and from broadcasts, podcasts, and livestream events to environmental hikes and public summits. The ultimate goal of this broad range of programming is to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.