What happens in the courthouse...

Unless explicitly noted otherwise, this blog represents my own opinions, not those of any organization (like the Kittitas County Democratic Party) that I might be involved with.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Marijuana Forum, October 22

As reported in this morning's Daily Record, I am organizing a community forum on marijuana in Kittitas County at 6:30 on Wednesday, October 22 at the Hal Holmes Center. Commissioner O'Brien can't attend due to a prior commitment, so I will not be treating this as a campaign event. I'll be treating it as an opportunity to learn, and I'll be trying to figure out how we got to the point that this issue is so divisive.

More on the forum in a moment, but first I want to note that I intentionally waited for the Daily Record to report on this event before I started promoting it on the Internet. (I would have involved the Northern Kittitas County Tribune, too, but it is a weekly and the timing didn't work out.) 

The Internet is good for some things, and newspapers are good for other things. The more local the issue, the bigger the difference and the more important newspapers become. 

A big problem with the Internet -- and I didn't invent this idea -- is that we tend to gravitate toward sites that agree with our own point of view. This leads to what is called a silo, or stovepipe, effect, where we are only exposed to ideas that we already agree with, at the very time when we need to hear other perspectives. There's a real cost to this problem, and I think the upset we're experiencing over marijuana are an example of it.

I am regularly surprised at how many people I meet who don't subscribe to any local newspaper. This is too bad, because communities need common sources of information, even -- or, especially -- if they don't agree with some of the points of view they see there. Common sources of information and other common experiences are what make communities exist in the first place.

I don't mean for this post to be all about newspapers, but suffice it to say that I wish everyone in the county subscribed to and read one or both of our local newspapers.

OK, more about the marijuana forum. It turns out that is easy and mostly free to stream events on the Internet these days.1 In keeping with my interest in openness, I will be streaming video of the forum on the Internet through YouTube.2 Here is a link, in case the one at the top of this post doesn't work, but I hope most people will come and participate, rather than stay home and just watch.

As the Daily Record article says, I hope we can have a civil exchange of information and that we can all learn from one another and try to see other points of view. I hope you'll come.

1Free and easy is a far cry from the $100,000 for two years quoted by Commissioner O'Brien as the cost of making commissioner meetings available to the public as video. (Link to an earlier post about this.) Of course, on the Internet free and easy sometimes turns out to be neither, but clearly the cost of making meetings available to citizens and journalists who can't make it to commissioner meetings is going to be far less than the commissioners seem to think it would cost.
2It took me about 45 minutes to go from being unaware that it was even possible for regular people to stream video on the internet, to figuring out how to set it up. It became possible on YouTube late last year.

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