NEWBURYPORT — The city's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alliance has contracted with Essential Partners to host three community dialogues June 8, 15 and 29 to create a "safe space where all voices can be heard."

Discussions have become challenging for many people who might hesitate to share opinions or beliefs, and there is little room given to hear someone with opposing positions, according to the alliance. 

These dialogues were designed in response to consideration of the naming of Rupert A. Nock Middle School after a story was shared about the namesake’s actions regarding a Black student, and the presence of the "thin blue line" flag flown outside the Newburyport police station.

These dialogues are intended not to come to a solution on either issue, but to create a forum where all voices can be heard and perspectives can be shared in a safe space, according to a press release from the alliance.

The hope with this model is that all participants are heard and feel valued. With an increase in compassion and understanding for one's neighbors, "we can make Newburyport a place that is safe, welcoming, and inclusive to all who work, live and play here," according to the release.

Newburyport Public Schools has worked with Essential Partners over the past year to promote constructive dialogue and allow for discussion of difficult and polarizing topics. City officials hope for a similar outcome with this method.

These dialogues are open to anyone living, working for, or working in Newburyport. Participants must be at least 14 years old.

While not mandatory, the alliance suggests participants commit to all three dialogues if possible since they are designed to build off each other. All dialogues will be virtual and run from 6 to 8 p.m.

The topic on June 8 will be: "What are our community values and beliefs?"

On June 15, the topic will be: "What is the role of law enforcement in our community?"

On June 29, the topic will be: "How do our values guide city decision-making?"

Anyone interested in taking part must sign up in advance by visiting the DEI Alliance’s website: www.nbptdeialliance.com.

Anyone with questions can contact Tina Los, the alliance's coordinator, at tlos@cityofnewburyport.com or 978-992-1671.

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