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Up For Discussion

When Feb 24, 2011
from 06:30 PM to 07:30 PM
Where Decorah Public Library
Contact Name
Contact Phone 563-382-3717
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“Up for Discussion,” a conversation for folks who like to read and talk, will begin in the Decorah Public Library on Thursday, February 17.  The discussion series will run for four Thursdays.  “Each week will focus on a stimulating text that will trigger lively conversation,” according to David Cavagnaro, Executive Director of the Pepperfield Project, the program’s sponsor.  


The readings and the conversations are all free and open to the public.  They will be held each Thursday, from February 17 through March 8 at 6:30.  There will be coffee and cookies, of course.


Gary Holthaus of Red Wing, Minnesota, will lead the discussions.  “We have picked some challenging and interesting texts,” Holthaus said, “but they make good reading, and will offer some thought-provoking ideas.”  Holthaus is in Decorah for two months talking with folks in the area about the future of the city.  “Gary is here under a grant from Humanities Iowa,” Cavagnaro said, “and in addition to this series he will be interviewing sixty citizens about their views of Decorah.”


 The texts are brief and include Ta Hsio a text from 500 B.C. by Confucius; and “The Western Inscription,” a text by Chang Tsai, an 11th Century philosopher in China.  The second week will focus on “A Banquet of Consequences,” an essay in The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies, a book by Richard Heinberg.   The third week’s reading is “The WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, and the FTAA,” a chapter from a book by Holthaus titled, From the Farm to the Table: What All Americans Need to Know about Agriculture.  It looks at the impact of free trade and globalization on local food and economies.  The final reading is “Sustainability and Community,” a chapter from Sustaining the Common Good, by John B. Cobb Jr.   


According to Holthaus, “These documents are all related to our concerns about community, energy, agriculture, food, the economy, the environment, and personal responsibility.  People have been thinking about these issues for a long time, which is why the old Chinese texts are instructive.  Though these readings are from widely different perspectives, they all have something worth thinking about.”  


Cavagnaro says, “For those who are concerned about the future of our community, or worry about what is happening to our energy, agriculture and food systems, these readings and conversations will provide some new information and new perspectives.  We do not expect everyone to agree with everything in these readings.  We do expect people to read them before they come, and to come with a point a view, ready to listen to one another and to talk.” 


Free photocopies of the texts can be picked up at the Decorah Public Library during regular open hours, seven days a week.


“Our purpose is to contribute to a growing conversation about the future of Decorah and our sense of community that has already begun through The Sustainable Decorah Initiative,” says Cavagnaro.  Holthaus adds that “Like the Sustainable Decorah Initiative, this project is committed to the development of a more sustainable society.  We believe conversations like these, scattered across the Midwest so many people can have access to them, are essential for achieving our goals for the future and maintaining our democracy.”


"Up for Discussion” is made possible in part with support from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The views and opinions expressed by this program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities Iowa or the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Funding also comes from The Pepperfield Project, Luther College, the Center for a Regenerative Society, Decorah Public Library, and individual donors.


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