The Neighborhood Leaders Council is asked to respect diversity of political opinion.
[00:00:07] Harry Sanger (member, River Road Community Organization): I wanted to just take a moment and talk about gatekeeping. And I had approached our RRCO Social Justice Committee about the discrimination that was happening in our neighborhood over masks vs. people who weren’t wearing masks and vaxxed vs. people who weren’t getting vaxxed or didn’t want to provide a card. And they had no interest in taking on that social justice issue. And I was kind of left out in the cold. Because of my work on that, I’ve been blackballed.
[00:00:34] Before COVID, I was an active volunteer in my community: planning commissions, neighborhood councils. And since COVID, I have been unable to get a single community volunteer position. And I think that as neighborhood leaders, you all certainly have the ability to gatekeep. And I think that you should wield that power very judiciously.
[00:00:56] And I really want to support the continued funding of neighborhoods, but I have a hard time being an active supporter when I’m actively being discriminated against.
[00:01:08] John Q: Later in the February meeting:
[00:01:11] Harry Sanger: I’m experiencing bias right now. I’m being labeled an ‘anti-vaxxer’ because of my political beliefs. And political affiliation is a protected class in the City of Eugene.
[00:01:23] Being labeled an ‘anti-vaxxer’ is offensive to me. I find that degrading language. I feel like that’s a bias incident. And we’re sitting here talking about bias incidents, and I have to bring it up. I’m uncomfortable in this situation and I’m the one who has to bring it up.
[00:01:37] I’m not being challenged on a single political topic. I’m being challenged as my whole belief structure. And I just gave public comment at the beginning of this meeting, that I am being cast out of every single volunteer opportunity in the community because I’ve been labeled an ‘anti-vaxxer.’
[00:01:56] And we’re just going to pretend like we’re going to move forward, and I’m okay with moving forward, but not when people keep rehashing this old stuff and trying to criminalize a political opinion. A group of people in Eugene are being labeled anti-vaxxers and then their opinion is being categorically dismissed.
[00:02:15] John Q: We invite a discussion between the two groups Harry identified (those favoring public health mandates and critics of government mandates), using a three-group mediation method, based on one of the oldest continuous participatory democracies in the world. After Harry’s group and a group of those opposing Harry, a third group seeks to find common ground between them.
[00:02:40] We asked ChatGPT to provide this mediation group with some starting points for discussion. Here’s what it said.
[00:02:48] ChatGPT: Here are three mediating positions between public health mandates and individual liberties.
[00:02:54] 1. Balancing public health and individual liberty: Governments can match restrictions to the threat of the disease while allowing individuals to exercise personal freedoms as much as possible. This approach requires constant reevaluation and flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances with monitoring and analysis to determine where restrictions are most effective.
[00:03:18] 2. Education and empowerment: Provide clear and concise information about the risks of public health measures such as effects on mental health and learning, and the benefits of wearing masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated. Encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own health and the health of their communities.
[00:03:40] 3. Collaborative decision-making: Involve individuals and communities in the decision-making process. Governments can seek input from individuals and community organizations and work collaboratively to develop policies that balance public health and individual liberty. This approach requires open communication and a willingness to listen to diverse perspectives.
[00:04:05] John Q: ChatGPT suggests some paths towards group consensus as we engage the whole community in planning for a future pandemic.