“If you have a problem, you don’t go to the mayor first–you develop a relationship with your council or town board member. They have more power,” explains Rebecca Martin, co-founder of KingstonCitizens, the community-based organization committed to nurturing citizen participation and empowerment in government. “Just like in our country, Trump can proclaim whatever he wants, but it still goes through Congress and the Senate. It gets hashed out with the public, and decisions are made and voted on.” Through monthly Community Forums which began in February with discussion on Constitutional Law, KingstonCitizens has been helping people find ways to engage on subjects they’re passionate about, and to give the public a voice in an organized productive way, so there are more eyes on the local process. On May 21st, they’re considering public education with expert panelists, discussion, and desserts.
KingstonCitizens has been holding forums on and off since their inception in 2006. The organization is essentially a network of volunteer citizens coming together on an issue, creating a strategy as a group, and following through to the bitter end. The group achieved some fame when they took on and ultimately defeated a proposal by the Niagara Bottling Company to purchase a significant portion of Kingston’s water supply. Now, they’re focusing efforts on informing a public energized by the Trump Administration’s agenda, and crafting a framework for involvement in local politics that can be modeled in communities everywhere.
The forum On Public Education will be a conversation with Robin Jacobowitz and James F. Shaughnessy, both experts in education and members of the Kingston City School District Board of Education. It will look at some or all aspects of education that were portrayed by Trump, and will be framed primarily by the panelists and moderator Martin, with opportunity for public comment and questions. Martin says, “We want people to get inspired to ask, ‘Where is my role in this?’”
Part IV: On Public Education of the Community Educational Forums: An Eight-Part Series at Church Des Artistes, 79 Wurts Street on the Rondout in Kingston:, Sunday, May 21st, 2017, 1-4p, free. For the full monthly schedule of forums and to watch video from previous forums, visit the website.
Coffee and tea are provided, and participants are encouraged to bring a dessert to share. KingstonCitizens encourages people to bring a personal computer laptop, if they have one. Wi-fi is available. This event is geared towards adults. Bringing children is at the discretion of the caregiver, as no childcare or activities are available. The event is ideal for children who are equipped to sit and listen, bring questions or just absorb.