Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Don’t talk about religion or politics?

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 by No comments yet

Growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s and 70s, I frequently heard that one simply did NOT talk about religion or politics.  I somehow combined this etiquette demand with the admonition that I was not to say swear words either.  Needless to say, this approach left me confused… “but how are you supposed to learn and debate and change if you can’t talk about this sh#$@t?”  Oops.

Many people, I think, still feel that it’s improper to talk about such matters among neighbors… at a block party, a school event, or on Front Porch Forum.

Recently, a member of the popular and rural Westford FPF forum posted a note about civil rights and gay marriage… an issue that is picking up steam in Vermont.  This led to a response from another resident…

If our Neighborhood Forum is going to turn into a political soapbox then I will remove myself from the mailing list.  I appreciate being kept informed on our community’s events, and knowing about lost dogs and items for sale, etc. I do NOT want to hear about somebody’s political or sexual orientation. I do not think this is an appropriate venue for such discussions.

And then a third neighbor responded to the above with…

online dictionary definition of a forum (#3)
an assembly, meeting place, … for the discussion of questions of public interest.

I like the Westford Neighborhood Forum from lost dogs, to school district issues, house sitters, farmers markets, and political issues… a place for the discussion of questions of public interest. We all won’t agree but let’s keep the forum open.

I am not interested in every posting on the Forum, but I am always eager to open the email marked Westford Neighborhood Forum and check out what is there.  I feel it is is a great resource for our community and hope it continues to grow.

It’s a tough question… some people are interested, able and willing to engage civilly about almost any topic, while others feel that some popular issues are simply out of bounds and should not be discussed openly.  Front Porch Forum’s mission is to help neighbors connect and foster community at the neighborhood/town level.  And to accomplish that we need lots of people to be involved… not just those of one political persuasion or another.  We also support open, civil and construction conversation among neighbors about many topics.  It’s a balancing act for all involved.

Posted in: Clay Shirky, Community Building, Community Management, Democracy, Front Porch Forum, Knight Foundation, Local Online, MacArthur Fellows, Make It Your Own Awards, Neighborhood, Online Civility, Politics, social capital, Social Networking, Social Responsibility, Stories

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