By Emily Beckman
WICHITA - When KMUW, the local public radio station, hosted its first Engage ICT: Democracy on Tap discussion at Reverie Coffee Roasters, the community turnout exceeded expectations.
Sarah Jane Crespo, director of community engagement for KMUW, recalls more than 115 people packed in the coffee shop to discuss health care.
“It was standing room only, with folks filing all the way to the back of the building, perching on the steps to the second floor, and huddled in corners around the room,” Crespo said in an e-mail interview.
That was in January 2016. Today, the program continues to exist, bringing panelists and thoughtful discussions to the community.
“It seemed like there was a lot of ignorance and a lot of apathy when it came to local issues, but there was also a need to address how national issues affect each of us locally,” Crespo said. “So, under the Engage ICT umbrella, we launched Democracy on Tap, a panel discussion to inform people and let them ask their own questions.”
The events are held monthly at Wichita locations that can provide a large venue while maintaining a casual feel.
Crespo believes that Engage ICT is for everyone.
“We want to make it easy for people to learn what they need to know and we want to inspire them to take action according to their own values,” Crespo said. “It’s healthy to debate and to have civil discourse. We just want folks to be engaged.”
The next gathering will be held Tuesday, June 13 at Roxy’s Downtown, 412 E. Douglas. The topic will be: How to Run for Office.
For more information on Engage ICT: Democracy on Tap, visit kmuw.org/topic/engageict. l