Hear Me Out Event Series Begins a New Year of Virtual Dialogues!

By Irma Q. RSS Wed, September 29, 2021

After a successful first year, Hear Me Out is back this fall for its second season of monthly dialogues across distance and difference.

Hear Me Out is the first state-wide dialogue program of its kind. With connection at the heart of our program, we seek out dialogue as a medium of connecting Pennsylvanians statewide through their local libraries. We do this through a two-fold effort of cultivating a statewide partner library network in addition to our series of virtual dialogue programs. Since October 2020, we’ve created virtual spaces of authentic and substantive conversation where participants have explored pertinent national and local issues through a focus on personal experiences and storytelling. Our program brings speakers and other lived experts on pertinent issues as a means of orienting participants to have a more substantive dialogue together. We’ve tackled a variety of topics including vaccinesdata privacyclimate change, cannabis legalization, and mass incarceration.

Our two-hour programs begin with holistic fact-setting on the topic at hand, with curated research and expert speakers to further orient our participants on the complexities of the national and local public questions that we face. The dialogue portion of our programs begins in Zoom breakout rooms, where participants have the chance to connect with PA residents from across the state with an experienced moderator at hand. Moderators pose curated discussion questions that focus on sharing stories between participants and uplifting lived experiences to build community connections.

As we collectively address the challenges we share, our program is committed to providing virtual spaces for Pennsylvanians to learn and dialogue with each other on issues that matter. Our first dialogue of the season, titled "Food Equity", will feature Christa Barfield—aka FarmerJawn—in conversation with Heidi Fareri—Executive Director of Monroe County Meals on Wheels & Chair of the Pocono Mountains Hunger Coalition—as our table-setting speakers. Join us to learn about food systems across the state and connect with fellow Pennsylvanians on Wednesday, October 6 at 5:30 p.m!

Created in collaboration with the Carnegie Library of PittsburghCoy Public Library of ShippensburgCleve J. Fredricksen Library, and Northland Public Library, we're excited to announce the 2021-2022 Hear Me Out monthly dialogue line-up on the first Wednesday of the month, from November through June, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Healthcare & Community | November 3
The impact of COVID-19 has led to many questions about U.S. healthcare and how we take care of each other as a community. The goal of this session is to hold space to discuss the health impacts of COVID, disparities within our healthcare system, and community care practices.

Grief & End-of-Life Care | December 1
With a constant uptick of global death counts due to COVID-19, grief may feel like an ever-present emotion, not only for those lost but also for lost time and opportunity. For many of us, grief can pool together from multiple sources—whether that be racial inequity, the climate crisis, financial insecurity, or any number of difficulties that we individually and collectively navigate. In this two-hour session, we will partner with Pennsylvanian grief counselors and end-of-life practitioners. Our goal is to hold space for lived experiences of grief, our body’s reactions to grief, our cultural relationship to death, and how to navigate grief collectively.

Reimagining Work | January 5
The abrupt shift to remote work as a response to COVID-19 in 2020 presented a unique opportunity to collectively reimagine the future of work. In this session, we will explore prominent issues facing workers today, such as the impact of COVID-19, livable wages, the future of unions, and well-being in relation to work.

Accessibility | February 2
2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While much has changed in 30 years, people with disabilities are still the third largest underrepresented minority group. The goal of this session is to center lived experiences with disability, accessibility considerations for virtual and in-person spaces, and current challenges and hopes for a more accessible world.

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) | March 2
With pioneering developments in machine learning like self-driving cars, robotics, and natural language processing, artificial intelligence (A.I) is at the forefront of modern technological advancement. In this session, we will explore the current landscape of artificial intelligence, with discussions around our concerns for inequity in the field as well as fears and hopes for future innovations.

Cryptocurrency | April 6
Cryptocurrency has been receiving significant attention in public discourse, with many left wondering whether to dismiss the buzz or begin investing. In this session, we will explore the fundamentals of cryptocurrency and the questions that it raises for Pennsylvanians in regards to the future of banking, industry, and the digital divide.

Fake News and Media Literacy | May 4
The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased our reliance on social media and the Internet for information. This development, combined with underlying political partisanship, has created a breeding ground for disinformation, conspiracy theories, and information overload. In this session, we will discuss the impacts of fake news and provide tools for accessing and evaluating reliable media.

Environmental Care in the Climate Crisis | June 1
With growing attention towards global natural disasters caused by climate change, loss of hope for the future of our planet and climate doom is prevalent in public discourse. The goal of this session is to explore different mediums of how we can restore and care for our environment in the years to come, with consideration of indigenous climate restoration and activism, climate infrastructure, and urban and rural environmental justice.

We look forward to seeing you in our virtual space to foster authentic and personal points of connection in a time of disconnect!

If you have any questions about our programming, please reach out to the Hear Me Out Program Coordinator, Irma Qavolli, via email at qavolliI @ freelibrary.org.

The Hear Me Out program is made possible by a generous grant from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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