America’s Civic Square Kicks Off on Monday

The Cleveland Public Library will debut the first-ever America’s Civic Square national discussion series to coincide with the Republican National Convention. The four-day event, which kicks off on Monday, July 18 in the Eastman Reading Garden at Main Library, will feature community leaders engaging in insightful and thoughtful conversation on topics including immigration, inclusion and women voters.

Monday’s event, “Who Is Being Left Out of Cleveland’s Renaissance?” will focus on the topic of inclusion. Speakers will include Zach Schiller of Policy Matters Ohio, lead artist Kate Sopko of documentary project The Fixers and Daniel Gray-Kontar, Executive Artistic Director of Twelve Literary and Performing Arts Incubator.

Gray-Kontar, who champions Cleveland’s youth voice and helps young artists to launch and showcase their work, hopes for a robust exchange of ideas particularly when it comes to America’s future generation.

“In too many instances – in matters of education, public safety and public policy – youth are rarely consulted and rarely brought to the table so that an authentic ear is lent to an authentic voice,” says Gray-Kontar. “But if we listen to them, we may address problems in ways we might not have considered.”

Kate Sopko and her team’s public artwork, The Fixers, explores what everyday Clevelanders would tell RNC delegates about how public policy impacts the lives of urban Americans. She’s confident Monday’s event will open up that discussion.

“A democratic process that doesn’t strive to listen to regular people’s voices is a failing process,” Sopko asserts. “There’s a lot to be said for people on the ground who are most impacted by public policy issues – they are the experts on it.”

Zach Schiller of Policy Matters Ohio looks forward to hearing from the diversity of voices within the city.

“Unfortunately, all too many people are left out,” Schiller says. “I am eager to learn from Clevelanders of different backgrounds what they think about this important topic.”

Monday’s panel, “Who Is Being Left Out of Cleveland’s Renaissance?” will be followed by “What Women Really Want From Their Candidates” on Tuesday; on Wednesday panelists will discuss, “Immigration in America,” and regional debate champions will take the stage on Thursday to discuss news items making headlines. All events will take place at 12 pm (with the exception of Thursday’s event at 1pm) in the Eastman Reading Garden at Main Library.