Angry Uncle Review: The Civic Dinner

After alienating half her family with a Facebook post following the 2016 election, Atlanta native Jenn Graham came up with the idea of the “Civic Dinner.” Here are the ground rules:

A diverse group of six to 10 people is assembled. It can be friends, colleagues, neighbors or strangers. Each participant pays a fee to cover the cost of the event, or brings a dish if it’s a potluck.

Current conversation topics at ARC-related meals include mobility, livability, affordable housing, aging, education and work. The host receives a packet that provides instructions for facilitating the dinner conversation. It also includes three “big questions” to ask each participant. Participants take turns, and the host acts as moderator.

“One of the things that’s nice about Jenn’s concept,” said Jenn Graham’s uncle, Richard Lysinger, “is it’s a formalized opportunity to have those kinds of conversations. Everybody knows the rules of the game.”

And now the $64 question:

Can we adopt that structure for our own family meals? Or what about for Thanksgiving? State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, who lost to Rep. Sally Harrell in the midterms, said now is the time, and the Thanksgiving table is as good a place as any to talk of important things. “What better time than the holiday season when we talk about peace on earth and good will toward men?” he said. “We can’t continue down this path of mutual destruction.”

Hmmm. This seems awfully structured for a Thanksgiving dinner. Will everyone agree to a moderated, round-robin discussion regulated by Robert’s Rules of Order? I’m having a hard time seeing it. But maybe! I think one of my readers should give this a try and report back on Friday. Two uncles.


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