On Monday, May 8th, 100 constituents, 20 staff and volunteers, between 150 and 200 demonstrators, 8 members of law enforcement, one congresswoman and her staff, and several reporters and photographers gathered together at One Sesame Street in Plattsburgh, NY as Mountain Lake PBS continued a 40-year tradition of insightful and thought-provoking community engagement.
We hosted a Community Forum. More than a forum, it was a statement about the health of a democracy that prides itself on the ability to allow all members of the community to gather and have a public conversation. Congresswoman Stefanik and our moderator Thom Hallock were in full agreement that there would be no restrictions on questions and content. Our team worked hard to develop a fair selection process for the limited number of seats that could fit in our studio, and a welcoming environment for people from all over the district who gathered both inside and outside our building. This all led to a conversation that was heated at times… filled with diverse ideas and passions… and ultimately very positive and productive.
As the new CEO and President of Mountain Lake PBS, I couldn’t have been more pleased to see all those who attended. We are at our best when we take interest in the world around us, and we here at MLPBS are happy to provide not just a lens on that world, but a platform for dialogue. We do this through enlightening shows like NOVA, Nature and PBS NewsHour, through a wide range of PBS Kids series and special programming, and, of course, through our own locally produced programs and forums.
This event reaffirmed for me that public media continues to play a critical role in our society… a role worthy of the effort and support necessary for it to flourish. We have a passion for our mission, and the response we received during and subsequent to this forum proves we share that passion with many folks throughout the communities we serve.
I am grateful to everyone who helped make this Community Forum a success. That includes Rep. Elise Stefanik and her staff, the audience in the studio and participants online, the members of law enforcement, the staff, interns and volunteers at Mountain Lake PBS, the demonstrators who made their opinions heard, and our supporters who make it all possible. Open ears and civil, sometime boisterous discourse: those are the essence of healthy democracy. Mountain Lake PBS is proud to provide the microphone.