The Need For Community and Civility: What We Heard in Brunswick

Our Brunswick Tell Me More Tour stop had quite the opening act with a LIVE taping of Maine Calling with Jennifer Rooks taking place prior to our community discussion. The combination of a really interesting topic (Artificial Intelligence and how it is manifesting itself in our lives), three wonderful guests from Bowdoin College, and some outstanding questions from the packed audience set the tone for a very spirited and passionate Tell Me More Tour discussion that followed.

The tour stop officially commenced when Senior News Editor Keith Shortall took to the stage and interviewed Jennifer and coordinated questions from attendees. The audience was quite interested in how Maine Calling show topics are determined and how Jennifer prepares so well for each show. Jennifer identified herself (and the entire Maine Calling team) as innately curious and pointed to her openness to learning about most any topic as a key to her own success and that of Maine Calling itself.

Keith then shared what Maine Public had learned about Cumberland County from our Tell Me More Survey completed in the winter and asked if attendees felt that what we heard accurately depicted what is going on in their community. Unlike at a few of the previous tour stops where specific news items and opportunities were mentioned and identified, this Brunswick tour stop stepped back a bit more and launched into a philosophical discussion on the state of our society today given the current media landscape and the need to empower the sense of community that, for many attendees, seems to have slipped to the background.

Most of the comments followed a thread that started with the very first comment, which was about a general concern that political divisions had intensified not just at the national level, but in communities as well. Others echoed this concern in various ways, citing a rising demand for mental health services, particularly for teens and young adults, and a feeling among older citizens that the sense of community in places like Brunswick is actually alive and well, but is being overshadowed by the national narrative that America is completely and hopelessly polarized. Some attendees suggested that Maine Public could serve as a force to re-craft this narrative, and perhaps even provide a digital forum that could connect "neighbors" who now feel very much alone. It was a very engaging and informative session.

As with all tour stops, all attendee suggestions and feedback were documented and are shared with the entire news team.

THANK YOU Brunswick!