WEMU FM 89.1 radio host Lisa Barry recently featured the Dexter Forum on her show “All Things Considered.” Barry’s show is the local version of the nationally syndicated NPR show.
“The Forum is a gathering on the first and third Saturdays of every month, in our community wellness center, of interested citizens who want to sit down and talk about important events politically, heavily, heavily leaning toward local,” John explained for the listeners.
The Dexter Forum is supported by the Dexter Wellness Coalition as an extension of the 5 Healthy Towns initiative to “help connect with others in healthy ways.” The meetings are non-partisan. Karl identifies as Republican. John identifies as Democrat. There point in identifying at all is to emphasize the idea that, although people promote solutions from different viewpoints, eventually we have to come together to solve the problem.
The idea for a forum in Dexter was inspired by the Fletcher Forum in Ypsilanti. “That has been meeting for a number of years named after Peter Fletcher, a long time leader locally, statewide, and nationally,” Karl explained. “John and I attended that. We decided that was something we could like to do in Dexter. We followed pretty much the format that they do.”
Since its beginning in February, 2015, the Dexter Forum’s format has been simple and straightforward. The agenda is determined by those present with discussion leaning mainly to local issues such as roads, local elections, schools, land development, drug use, roundabouts, and a Mexican restaurant.
The meetings number around 50 with half of those being local officials or past officials for the City, schools, county, townships, and state. There is plenty of expertise and experience in the room to give insight and quell any rumors.
Karl and John explained for listeners that the motto of the Forum is “Listen and learn.” Those who attend the Saturday morning gatherings have a wide range of political views and leanings, but discussions are always civil. The moderators make it clear that the Forum is not a debate, but an attempt at the cohesion of opinions and ideas for a greater whole. No particular viewpoint is endorsed or advocated. As a result, the safe place to open up and speak encourages people to do just that. The conversations are honest and frank.
The group meets on the first and third Saturdays of the month at 8:30 am in the conference room of the Dexter Wellness Center, 2810 Baker Rd, Dexter. Although the meetings end promptly at 9:30, informal discussions often continue for some time. After each meeting, John emails a summary of the discussions to a growing list of interested people.
You can hear the entire “All Things Considered” interview here.