Since April 2017 our volunteer force has aimed to create one, timely, two hour community discussion per month. We have brought dozens of participants into conversations on the impact of immigration restrictions on research and innovation, cancers caused by refusing HPV vaccination for children, and addiction as a disease, as opposed to a moral deficit, in the context of the opioid crisis that has taken thousands of lives in Erie County. Each of our events are led by both professionals in the fields relevant to the topic and the people whose lives are deeply impacted by the issues, including special populations such as refugees and immigrants, persons with disabilities, and persons living in concentrated poverty. All of our events give participants next steps for acting on these issues through partnering community groups and advocacy. One of our previous events included a Narcan training session and we aim to develop more hands on learning opportunities for adults at future events.
Each of our previous public discussions were live streamed on social media, bringing in up to 26,000 views per event, and creating additional online engagement with vetted resources on the topics. Participants always walk away with information about what makes a source credible so they can develop skills to discern evidence from misinformation. This high level of online engagement speaks to the desire for this interdisciplinary dialogue in a local context. SDA is present in Erie County communities between events, co-sponsoring actions on climate change, net-neutrality, tax reform, and women’s rights, and supporting goals of partnering groups.