On the eve of Thanksgiving, just as we were bracing for 15 rounds at the dinner table with the family, the following release pinged in over the transom:
ALOUD Highlights National Better Conversation Week
“With Thanksgiving just over the horizon, how many of us are dreading the discussions with Uncle Jose or Aunt Sarah at the family dinner table?” remarked Will Baker, Executive Director of the Associated Leaders of Urban Debate (ALOUD), “There is no better time of the year for everyone to practice the art of civic discourse than over the holidays during National Better Conversation Week.”
National Conversation Week began in Seattle cafes in 2001. It’s part of ALOUD’s National Campaign for Civic Discourse, a push to get city-dwelling students involved in debate as a “vehicle for urban education reform to develop civic participation and healthier communities.” Writes ALOUD board chair and NYU president John Sexton, “We have lost the ability in our public discourse to speak to one another in a way that moves ideas forward–that can result in enlightenment–or at least reflection–and that ends in disagreement without rancor…Informed discussion of issues of importance is a basic premise of democracy…”
And so is turning down the damned volume on the game during Thanksgiving dinner, or, in some households, turning it up. We invite your accounts of civic discourse during the meal. Just click on “add a comment” below.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 22, 2005