History and Name
History conveniently lends many solutions to becoming knowledgeable citizens, capable of self-governance. The American Revolution was spawned from meetings at pubs and taverns; “penny universities” –so called because coffee shops would charge a penny to non-paying customers who came just for the education — go back even further to England. It used to be said that the best education anyone could get was not from private universities, but rather at the local taverns and coffee shops. Being a barkeep was a position of honor, requiring a person with great breadth of knowledge; taverns were the places to meet travelers passing through town with knowledge from distant lands; AND conveniently, these bars and taverns were where everybody would socialize. Our forefathers were busy educating, making plans, and socializing all at the same time. Where did that great part of our history go?
Occupy Nevada County’s unofficial “beer discussion group” was our attempt at reviving the melding of intellectual discussion and socializing. Many of the best ideas and collaborations came out of these after-hours meetings, but we saw a need for greater diversity of perspective, and a less… colloquial name.
The obvious need to empower our local community made “Main Street” an obvious choice for inclusion in the new name. Today, “Forum” refers primarily to online discussion spaces, but the original forum comes from the Agora of Ancient Greece and Rome. There, citizens had a chance to watch and participate in discussions and the decisions of government officials. This freedom of participation, discussion and immediate oversight are exactly in the spirit of what we are doing.
In our outreach efforts, we found the cross-pollination of ideas within Nevada County is truly remarkable. We see Democrats, Republicans, Green Partiers, Occupiers, TEA Partiers, and Libertarians all at each others’ events trying to work constructively. But the outreach across party lines, so far, has been isolated to a few individuals. Our goal is broader participation, and finding more people willing and able to civilly and genuinely engage in dialogue with unlikely allies.
These are the reasons why the “Main Street Forum” will not cater to any particular ideology. This is not to say we expect presentations to be neutral, and we certainly don’t expect participants to hide their opinions or identities. This simply means the Main Street Forum’s role is to facilitate, not proselytize.
We hope that presenters will recognize this opportunity to engage a broader audience — to stop preaching to the choir. We hope participants find value in learning, expressing themselves, and making unexpected friends. And we hope our presence alone will strengthen the community and local businesses. Please enjoy what we are calling “socializing with a purpose!”
a) Topic Selection – Discussion topics will be selected based on feedback from the community and availability of a presenter and presentation materials.
You can propose new topics by contacting us via email or our contact page.
b) Joining the Discussion – If you would like to join us for one of the topic discussions or just follow that topic’s online forum discussion, please visit our sign-up page. Selecting the “Follow” button will notify you by email when new posts are made to that topic’s blog page and send you an email invitation to the event once the date and venue for the discussion are finalized. You can click the topic’s “Attend” button to RSVP after receiving the invitation (or even before then if you would like to attend).
c) Event Development – MSF coordinators will work with presenter to develop a presentation that encourages discussion. Together, they will establish presentation materials, a timeline for the meeting, and suggested seed questions for discussion. The development process must be started AT LEAST two weeks in advance of the meeting. Venue for the event will be based on RSVPs; venue suggestions welcome.
d) General Event Guidelines – Participants will be asked to abide by the following agreements:
- Respect personal information
- Step forward, step back
- Be constructive
- Keep it clean
- Be respectful of participants, presenters, the hosting venue and its patrons
A facilitator from the MSF group will be established to keep the meeting flowing, call on people during the large group discussion, and can be called over for help in the small group discussions.
e) Blog and Forum Participation – Registered users can post to the site’s topic blogs and discussion forum and add their comments to existing threads. The topic blogs are intended for news and factual reference information relating to the topics. The discussion forum is available for threaded discussions not specifically adding reference details to the topic or recommending specific direction. Opinions should be posted to the discussion forum.
Both the topic blogs and discussion forum are moderated. Main Street Forum NC will endeavor to fact check the information provided on this website or note where it cannot be confirmed. Main Street Forum NC reserves the right to block or remove materials that are factually incorrect or fail to meet our guidelines. Please follow the same guidelines for posts and comments as shown above for the events.