August 10th topic: ‘Mental Illness: is it a Gift or a Curse?’

At our next discussion, Shelley Carr will facilitate a conversation exploring our ideas and assumptions about mental health:

Coming from a family with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and a sufferer of GAD I have seen the wonders of mental illness but also the suffering. If we could eliminate Mental illness totally, would our world be a better place?

August 10, 7pm, at the Atrium in Chaucer’s Pub. See you there!

(Also: now is a great time to pitch a topic for our October 12 discussion!)

Summer Update

There is no official City Symposium event scheduled for July. However…

…a few of us were chatting at the last symposium about the idea of getting together for an informal pint or two anyway. I (James) would like to propose that we meet up at Chaucers on Wednesday, July 20, at 7pm to have a drink and discuss … whatever comes up! No specific topic or facilitator — just a pub night to visit with interesting people. (Note: this informal evening will not take place in the Atrium; we will be in the main pub area.) If you are interested in coming, please hit reply and let me know!

The next actual/organized City Symposium event is scheduled for Wednesday, August 10th. You should jet over to to vote for a discussion topic or pitch a presentation idea.

City Symposium: Wednesday, June 8

The next City Symposium discussion is on Wednesday, June 8, at 7:00pm (Chaucers’ Atrium room)

The topic for this dialogue: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): Disorder or Superpower, as proposed by Matt Ross:

As someone who was diagnosed with ADD and took medication for many years, I’m fascinated by the tension between how ADD is perceived in our society, and how we deal with that perception. Now in my life, I see it as a super power, my greatest gift, years before this, I thought it was my greatest curse. I want to explore this tension, and how it plays out in our society.

Also: the poll for future discussion topics has been reset. Jump on over to the ideas page to pitch some ideas for upcoming meetings.

Can we understand the present without understanding the past?

The next City Symposium gathering is Wednesday, April 13 at 7pm at Chaucer’s Pub.

Here’s the topic proposal with the most votes for this event: Can we understand the present without understanding the past? by James Shelley

I have finished a rough draft of a book about the role that ancient literature plays in contemporary society. My thesis is straightforward: the papyrus, codices, and writings of the past teach us things about ourselves that we can learn in no other way. I’d like to take advantage of a room full of smart people (that’s you!) to pitch my thesis and get your critiques and input.

RSVP, learn more, and invite your friends at

This event is also on Facebook at

Last reminder for Wednesday

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out this post for links and background for this Wednesay’s discussion. We will be launching our discussion by exploring a ‘systems approach’ to thinking about society change. Grabbing this preamble (homework!) will probably be helpful.

See you at 7pm at Chaucers (Atrium room) this Wednesday!

You might also want to jump on board with the Facebook event page for this discussion too.

February 10th topic: How do we (actually) make positive changes in society?

Our first gathering of 2016 is only two weeks away!

Here’s the question voted up for discussion:

How do we (actually) make positive changes in society?
(Proposed by James Shelley)

I’d like to have a high level discussion about how society transforms and evolves. To prompt the dialogue, I’d invite everyone to read an essay entitled ‘Leverage Points’ by Donella Meadows. This essay to serve as a lens to provoke/frame our initial thoughts.

If you would rather not read the entire article (about 9,300 words), I recently condensed the main thesis into a 12 minute video presentation as part of another project. (Note: in this video, I am applying Meadow’s theory to poverty reduction specifically. In our discussion on February 10th, I hope our conversation explores how we think about change in other political, social, and environmental arenas as well. In Meadow’s argument, these are all interrelated.)

Of course, the assumption that we can (or should) actually try to change society at all is also up for consideration. Join us on Wednesday, February 10th, at 7pm at Chaucers (Atrium room) for a discussion about the nature of change itself.

Know some other people who might interested in joining this discussion? Invite them to join you on February 10th, and be sure to invite them to sign up for this email list for further updates.

Facebook event details here.

1 month to go!

The first City Symposium of 2016 is just a little over 4 weeks away! Make sure that Wednesday, February 10th at 7pm is marked in your calendar.

If you haven’t done so recently, be sure to visit the ideas page and vote for (and pitch!) ideas that you’d like to prioritize for discussion! (There are 15 days left to select our discussion topic for the February 10th event.)