Conversations aim to involve people in democracy

A series of new events called Pierce County Conversations are an effort by several community organizations to promote conversations about current topics such as immigration status, student rights, free speech and identifying fake news.

Pierce County Library System, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington and the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County, is hosting the discussions to provide people with the knowledge they need to communicate their ideas effectively and participate actively in democracy, said Georgia Lomax, executive director of the Library System.

“Libraries have always been a convener for ideas,” said Lomax. “We serve as an impartial facilitator in a neutral location, and we encourage and welcome all people to share and explore diverse opinions and ideas. We believe that when people have accurate information, individuals will form conclusions that benefit our communities and society.”

As part of the Library System’s strategic plan to support programs and resources for communities, it is launching Pierce County Conversations as a fall and winter series. Lomax said the libraries are committed to helping people be better-informed and better-equipped to advocate and activate in their community. The discussions are free and open to all.

Pierce County Conversations started with several events to recognize National Voter Registration Day Sept. 26-27. Volunteers from the League of Women Voters provided voter information and civic engagement resources.

Sessions on free speech, student rights and rights about immigration status will be held in October. In October and November, two workshops will help people identify and evaluate news and discern real news from fake news.

The schedule includes:

  • “Student Rights.” Lakewood branch of Pierce County Library, 6300 Wildaire Road SW., Oct. 10, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • “Know Your Rights.” Key Center branch of Pierce County Library, 8905 KPN, Oct. 21, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • “Know Your Rights: Immigration Status.” Fife branch of Pierce County Library, 6622 20th St. E., Oct. 24, 6 to 8 p.m., and Sumner branch of Pierce County Library, 1116 Fryar Ave., Nov. 16, 10 a.m. to noon
  • “What is Fake News?” Steilacoom branch of Pierce County Library, 2950 Steilacoom Blvd., Oct. 19, 2 to 4 p.m., and South Hill branch of Pierce County Library, 15420 Meridian E., Nov. 6, 7 to 9 p.m.

Additional library events focused on rights and democracy include citizenship classes hosted at the Fife and Lakewood branches, offered in partnership with Tacoma Community House. Classes are scheduled for Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Oct. 12 at 4 p.m., and Oct. 18, 4 p.m. at Tacoma Community House, which is located at 1314 S. L St. in Tacoma.

Lomax said providing access “to accurate information is at the core of public libraries. These workshops will allow people to develop their own views, counter misinformation, and hear a variety of viewpoints.”