Levee campaign raises deluge of questions: Residents of the Bottoms to Participate in New SIU media project

“Civic Soul,” a new project of SIU Carbondale’s Imagining Geographies, launched on Friday, February 27 with a community event at Shawnee High School in Wolf Lake, Illinois.

The event will begin with a premiere screening of ‘Save the Levees, Save the Future’, a video made by Shawnee High School and SIU students. As explained by Shawnee social science teacher, Jamie Nash-Mayberry, this most recent effort in her students’ award-winning four-year campaign explains to elected and government officials, at county, state, and national levels, why funds are needed to repair levees that stretch from Grand Tower to near Cairo Illinois.

The premiere will be the first of three segments of a recorded public meeting convened by a new multi-media effort of SIU’s Imagining Geographies project entitled ‘Civic Soul’. In the second segment of the meeting, Silvia Secchi, who researches and teaches SIU students about environmental policies, will facilitate a discussion of issues raised in the video, as well as other concerns and dilemmas facing residents of floodplains in the ‘Bottoms’ region and beyond. Discussants, who will also propose additional citizen actions to become engaged in policymaking, invited by Civic Soul, include SIU floodplain researcher Nicholas Pinter, former SIU Provost John Jackson of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute who studies public policymaking, and Jamie Nash-Mayberry.

In the third segment, audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions and exchange ideas among themselves and with discussants.

Civic Soul will record and post a video of Friday’s meeting on the Imagining Geographies Web site – www.imagining.siu.edu - along with informative resources about the issues and policies discussed.

Producer of Civic Soul and facilitator of Imagining Geographies, Peter Lemish, of SIU’s School of Journalism, explained that the aim of Civic Soul’s four pilot meetings to be held this spring is try a new way for the media to advance citizen involvement in policymaking. Lemish claimed that “it is rare that we have a chance to broadcast and view citizens in discussion about issues of direct concern to them in a public forum.” To advance this mission, Lemish is thankful to the WSIU staff for their efforts in recording Friday’s meeting, and hopes that the programs will be deemed worthy of broadcast as “the four-program series is a unique attempt to strengthen citizen involvement in civic dialogue and policymaking.”

Residents of the region are welcome to participate in this civic dialogue as the actions taken, or not taken, “have the potential to affect all of us,” as is explained so clearly in the Shawnee students’ video. ■

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March 2015Volume 1Number 1PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)