KingstonCitizens.org launching community forums series

Moderated by Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org will be hosting a series of eight “community education forums” over the next year at Church Des Artistes, located at 79 Wurts St. These forums are meant to provide a venue to discuss the ways that Donald Trump’s proposed initiatives for his first 100 days in office will affect life on a local and state level for members of the community.

The first of these, slated for this Sunday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m., will feature Marist College political science professor Lynn Eckert and will focus on Constitutional Law as it pertains to Trump’s proposed initiatives.

“Last November, after the election, there was an article on NPR that noted that Trump had released his initiatives for his first 100 days in office,” said Martin, co-founder of KingstonCitizens.org and longtime community activist, “I was struck by fear on both sides [of the political spectrum] … I had an idea to create a living document, a resource for citizens.”

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This Google doc, now almost a hundred pages long, was penned by Martin and other members of the community over a series of months during multi-hour brainstorming sessions. The document, still in progress, breaks down these initiatives subject by subject, with information on how they may affect New York State residents, how they may be enacted on a local level in the City of Kingston and Ulster County, and a list of relevant news article and videos. The document can be accessed through the KingstonCitizens.org website via a hyperlink under the masthead of the site.

It became apparent to Martin, she said, that these meetings were too important to hold on a small scale, and decided to open them further to the public. Guests are asked to bring dessert items to these three-hour potluck-style meetings along with their laptops — each session will include a group-edit of the document and a tutorial on how to properly use the websites attached to Kingston’s local government.

“[We need to] protect our rights by first understanding that we have them,” said Martin. “All of this is a lesson in civics and bringing people together. More than ever, we need to get together face-to-face.”

The next meeting, focused on “climate change, energy, and infrastructure,” will be held on Sunday, March 19, featuring guest speaker Kate Hudson of the Waterkeeper Alliance; the third, on immigration, will take place on April 30 and feature Andrea Callan of the Worker’s Justice Center of New York; on May 21, Kingston school board Trustee Robin Jacobowitz, Ph.D., will join school board Vice President James F. Shaughnessy Jr. in a conversation regarding the future of public education; the meeting on July 27 will concern women’s issues; on Sept. 17, “Campaign Refinance, Redistricting and Election Law” will be discussed; the Oct. 22 meeting will concern trade and economic development; and the final meeting on Nov. 12 will be led by Pat Courtney Strong, president of Courtney Strong Inc., and co-director of Citizens for Local Power Jennifer Metzger, who will discuss local and state clean energy programs.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Martin at ourcitizens@gmail.com or call at (845) 750-7295.

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