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Young Professionals Voice Their Opinions On National Deliberation Day

The Young Professionals Group (YPG) of FOCUS, in conjunction with the Foundation for Individual Responsibility and Social Trust (FIRST) hosted the third annual National Deliberation Day on Monday, August 2, 1999 at FOCUS.

National Deliberation Day was conceived to give young people across the country an opportunity to set goals for the next century in the form of a Generational Action Plan (GAP). This year's GAP will be presented to candidates for both local and national offices at a FIRST-organized convention of young adults in the spring of 2000.

Here in St. Louis, approximately 50 young adults showed up for the discussion. Following an orientation to general deliberation guidelines, everyone broke up into four smaller groups.

The theme of the evening, ISOLATION AND COMMUNITY, asked the groups to discuss "rediscovering and reinventing the family, community, and spiritual ties that bind us together." Moderators prompted the participants to explore whether isolation and alienation has increased with the onset of technology and the change in values from the previous generation; if too much emphasis on individual rights has led people to discard the need to get along as a community; and if the traditional family structure had in fact broken down, and what this meant for the nation.

Several key results came out of the discussion. Many people felt that apathy was a big problem, and insisted that there has to be more encouragement of and vehicles for civic involvement. Groups also agreed that this generation should be made to realize that it enjoys freedom that previous generations did not, such as a more integrated society, and the right to vote. It was deemed important that these rights not be taken for granted or be abused. Groups also debated the meaning of community, some arguing that the Internet and transportation have allowed us to widen our circle of concern beyond mere geographical boundaries. Finally, there was emphasis placed on the fact that basic values inherent in making a community work (care and respect for others; compromise; optimism) have to be rediscovered, if possible, through the basic family unit.

Participants became so excited by the richness of the dialogue on Monday, many people supported a suggestion to keep the deliberation going. Two representatives will join host Mark Manelli at KWMU on Thursday, from 11:00-12:00, for a continued discussion. Meanwhile, FOCUS and YPG will begin planning a way to make this type of gathering a regular occurrence, perhaps on a quarterly basis. The participants expressed interest in drawing up short reports after every meeting that could be forwarded to this area's mayors, aldermen, county executives, and legislators.

Comments or questions on YPG or National Deliberation Day may be addressed to Scott Levine at 727-0220 or Robin Hattori at 622-1250 ext. 102.