Announcing the Upcoming ‘Hear Me Out’ Civic Dialogue Line-Up!
Navigating social distancing and splintering ideological differences across Pennsylvania has not been an easy feat
Are you interested in joining an authentic learning space with fellow library patrons across Pennsylvania? Debuting in October 2020, the Hear Me Out civic dialogue program works to get at the heart of the issues that we face. Through holistic fact-setting and discussion questions centered on listening and storytelling, the initiative works to create virtual dialogue spaces that give participants the opportunity to foster authentic and personal points of connections in a time of disconnect. Despite the uncertainty that this new year still holds, Hear Me Out is committed to creating virtual spaces that directly engage with pertinent local and national issues across distance and difference.
Our first dialogue of 2021, “Will I Be Vaccinated?”, was developed with consideration of the anxiety and confusion that residents may be experiencing with COVID-19 vaccines. Featuring an interview and Q&A with medical ethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan, this dialogue will inform people about the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines and provide space to discuss vaccine distribution equity and perceptions of vaccine safety. Register for our dialogue on Wednesday, January 27 at 5:30 p.m.!
In collaboration with the Free Library of Philadelphia, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Coy Public Library of Shippensburg, Cleve J. Fredricksen Library, and Northland Public Library, Hear Me Out is excited to present our dialogue line-up for February through June:
Is My Data Private? | Wednesday, February 24
This dialogue will discuss the ways that our data is used in daily life, navigating the online terrain of social media, and weighing technological innovation with personal privacy. We will also highlight data protection measures that can be taken at as an individual and as a community. Register here!
How Would Legalized Marijuana Impact My Community? | Wednesday, March 31
As states like New Jersey begin the process of legalizing recreational cannabis, the impacts of marijuana criminalization and the effects of decriminalization in the context of Pennsylvania will be discussed.
Am I Represented in My Districts? | Wednesday, April 28
April is set to begin Pennsylvania’s redistricting efforts utilizing this past year’s Census. This dialogue will work to inform residents on gerrymandering and fair redistricting, with discussions on the impact of district lines on a personal and community level.
One Book, One Philadelphia integrative dialogue | Wednesday, May 26
In collaboration with the One Book, One Philadelphia program, this dialogue will utilize excerpts of the 2020 selection, The Tradition, to explore questions about our engagement with our own racial histories, and the work that can be done to shape future beliefs about race that have been passed down through family, society, and our nation
What’s the Impact of Mass Incarceration on My Community? | Wednesday, June 30
With a focus on local implications in Pennsylvania, this dialogue will provide information on mass incarceration and provide space for a forward-looking discussion on impacts and alternatives to our current system.
Why is dialogue important or relevant?
Hear Me Out arose from an understanding that the importance of combating polarization and indifference across political and geographic divides rests in Pennsylvanians—from all walks of life—being able to engage in authentic and brave conversations about national and local issues. Our current moment requires engaging proactively and intentionally with issues that impact our everyday lives. Dialogue, as opposed to debate or discussion, intentionally curates a space for individuals to collectively process while maintaining their own identity and humanity. While some of the problems we face require more than talk, creating a space for dialogue allows for individuals to build trust and collectively understand experiences that lay the foundation for collective civic action.
Community voices, community connections
Hear Me Out recognizes that there is power and strength in community. As we collectively navigate difficult issues like COVID-19, systemic injustice, economic hardship, and more, patron networks and stronger communities are important to cultivate. Libraries across the Commonwealth are working to create forums to highlight community voices, stories, and knowledge-seeking processes. This is an important step to building mutual understanding that better equips us to engage in mutual, compassionate, and genuine interactions.