March 22 – American Politics & Community Today: Reading & Discussion Series (Session 2)

The March 15 gathering has been POSTPONED due to after effects of blizzard weather conditions. This meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 22nd. Please contact the Roxbury Arts Group with any questions: 607.326.7908 or email Miguel.


American Politics & Community Today: Reading & Discussion Series. This series is possible through a generous grant by the Humanities New York foundation, and the Roxbury Arts Group.






March 15 (second meeting, followed by March 29 and ending on April 12.)

The Reading and Discussion group will meet between 6:00 – 7:30p at the Roxbury Arts Center, 5025 Vega Mountain Road, Roxbury NY

“As for distrust of one’s fellow citizens, however, when this pervades democratic relations, it paralyzes democracy; it means that citizens no longer think it sensible, or feel secure enough, to place their fates in the hands of democratic strangers.”—Prologue, Talking To Strangers, p XVI

What does it mean to be an American in the 21st century? What does a model American do, and what responsibilities do Americans have to their communities and to each other? Have the answers to these questions changed over the history of the United States? Questions such as these will be explored in this new Reading & Discussion Series being offered by the Roxbury Arts Group.

Discussion leader (not teacher) Jennifer Kabat:
Most important for our group is good discussion. I’m not a teacher; my job is to  make sure our conversation is open, trusting, respectful…. We’re talking about  citizenship and civics. We live in a small community with diverse opinions and have  come from a bruising election cycle. Key to our success is openness, to treat  everything everyone says with respect. We might be practicing together some of the  ideas in the first book we will be reading. 

Some basic ideas to bear in mind:

  • Don’t interrupt. Let people complete their thoughts. 
  • Some people in the group might be shyer than others or less comfortableexpressing their ideas than others. Some might be developing nascent ideas.Give those less comfortable talking room to speak.
  • What we say here, stays here. Think of this as a safe space to develop and experiment with ideas.
  • In discussions there might be pauses, quiet. That’s okay.

    To recap: Week 1, March 1: Prologue and Chapter 1 Talking to Strangers

    -Introductions: Who are we all? Why are we here

    -Overview of good discussion practices.

    – Reading a brief passage together and discussing it.


    Week 2 March 15, Part One Talking to Strangers pp 1-49

    Supplementary podcast to listen to Freakonomics, “Trust Me,” November 10, 2017,  27 minutes. (You can listen via the site or else on your phone via iTunes). There’s also a  transcript online. 

    Participants are able to borrow books directly from the Roxbury Arts Group for this program. To request a copy, email Miguel Martinez Riddle at or call 607.326.7908.


    Leading the discussion series is Margaretville resident Jennifer Kabat. Kabat, a writer and essayist, is also a co-founder of the collaborative essay site, The Weeklings. She has been a guest critic at Yale, the Rhode Island School of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, and other institutions. Her writing has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, BOMB, Harper’s, The Believer, The White Review, Salon, The Guardian, and Granta, among others. She has recieved multiple grants to support her writing and was recently artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in California. She teaches contemporary art and theory at New York University and design writing at the School of Visual Arts. Currently she is finishing up a collection of essays GROWING UP MODERN exploring civic values from where she grew up outside of Washington DC to where she lives now right here in the Catskills