The American Dream promises opportunity, class mobility, and prosperity. On the evening of September 23, 2019, Beyond Civility hosted a forum at the Mercantile Library which attempted to examine and reevaluate the current economic state through the lens of the American Dream. Pastor Ennis Tait, a Beyond Civility board member, introduced the night’s event with a brief discussion on the progress of the American Dream followed by a presentation by Dr. Julie Heath of the UC Economics Center on the economic spectrum as a whole. The night then proceeded with a panel discussion regarding the current American economic climate and the attainability of the American Dream. 

The panel for the night consisted of a moderator, Ellen Katz of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and three panelists, Derrick Braziel, Brigid Kelly, and Tom Williams. Derrick Braziel’s vision of the American Dream is one that involves a conscious effort to increase the presence of minority groups in the business world. Brigid Kelly’s vision of the American Dream is one that includes a strong, governmental presence that works to relieve families from unnecessary financial burdens. Tom Williams’ vision of the American Dream is one rooted in “inclusive capitalism,” which aims to create profitable businesses by fostering an environment of inclusion and care for all employees. Employing these various backgrounds and beliefs, the three panelists engaged in respectful and enlightening discussion about the economy and the American Dream. 

Following the panel discussion Beth Silvers, a Beyond Civility board member and co-host of the podcast, “Pantsuit Politics,” joined the panelists on stage and served as the question moderator. Audience members were able to send in questions they had throughout the night’s discussion and direct them to the members of the panel. This encouraged participation from both the panelists and the audience. 

Following the forum, Pursuing the American Dream, audience members were invited to continue the night’s discussion at the Civility Caucus. The Civility Caucus is a new component of Beyond Civility’s public events that encouraged audience members to engage and communicate with fellow audience members, panelists, moderators, and members of the Beyond Civility community. The environment of the Civility Caucus stimulated personal conversations and permitted participants of the Civility Caucus to have conversations that explored their personal thoughts and concerns regarding the night’s topic. However, the Civility Caucus also provided questions related to the night’s event to give participants a starting place for conversations if needed. As participants left the Civility Caucus, they were invited to share any final thoughts they had about the event by writing them down on a sticky note and posting them for others to read.

View evaluations from the event here.