The Forum operated as below between March 2021 and May 10, 2022. Our pre-pandemic ways are archived on the About Us Before Covid-19 page.
The Forum shares “information of importance to the African American community in particular and the rest of Charlotte in general.” Virtual meetings beginning in March 2021 will be in a Webex virtual room. Meetings will be livestreamed and available on this website. Archival materials about previous meetings will be handled as they were before the pandemic.
Sarah Stevenson helped found the Forum in the 1970s with the late Jim Richardson and the late Rev. Bob Walton. Stevenson presided over meetings for decades, but involved other people in leadership, chiefly with programming speakers and facilitating meetings. Over the years, even as she depended more on others, she attended the Forum weekly, through late 2019. On Jan. 4, 2022, facilitators renamed the Forum in Stevenson’s honor. A health issue in summer 2020 led her to move to a nursing facility, where she gets the care she now needs. Updates on Stevenson’s heath are here.
The ground rules
Good personal behavior and respectful habits are critical to giving everyone a good experience. Put a light source behind your camera that illuminates your face. Turn off lights and close window blinds behind your head. Minimize distractions that the camera sees. When your camera is on, limit your movements and body language. Eat off camera.
Participation in Forums is a privilege sustained by agreement to stay on topic, to treat all participants with respect, and to honor facilitators’ decisions. Violators of this agreement may face immediate suspension of the privilege.
On Election 2022 etiquette
The Forum does not endorse candidates and seeks to make all people welcome at its meetings. The following requests are based on Forum practice established during in-person meetings (remember those?), as adjusted for current virtual sessions.
- Campaign buttons and campaign clothing may be worn on-camera.
- Remove from view of your camera all political campaign signs.
- Do not embed campaign references in a virtual background.
- If you are a candidate and wish to be recognized when the facilitator calls for such, respect facilitator’s request to limit your comments. That limit is often set at 5 seconds. (The sentence above, “Campaign buttons….” can be spoken in about 5 seconds.)
A note about bandwidth
Webex has in its meeting controls a series of “virtual backgrounds” you can use to remove items behind you from participants’ view. These electronic tricks take large amounts of computing and wi-fi power. If you see odd shadows around your head, experience delays in hearing others, or see disruptions in the video, please remove the virtual background.
Virtual Tuesday Forums will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end around 9:30. The room will open at 8:15 a.m. for networking, and will close around 9:45 a.m. Links to enter the meeting will be sent Sunday evenings, along with the name of the presenter. You must use such a link for that week’s meeting to enter the Webex meeting. A meeting reminder, with the link included, will be mailed Tuesdays at 8:10 a.m.
When the stars are aligned and all equipment is operating, a livestream of the meeting may be available on Facebook or on this website here or possibly here. When a livestream has started, a notice like the one at right will be placed on the front of this website, with clickable links below leading to Facebook and the livestream on this site.
All microphones in the Webex room will be accessible during networking time. At 8:30, the presenter will ask that all participants mute their microphones. To protect privacy or for other reasons, cameras may be turned off by the participant at any time.
Most meetings will begin with a welcome by the facilitator; a prayer; a presentation; then a Q&A session. During the Q&A, the facilitator will present questions to the presenter. All participants with questions may at any time write them into the chat box. Viewers of the livestream may text their questions to a facilitator at the numbers listed on the livestream screen.
Weekly e-mails of Forum Announcements are compiled from material sent in via e-mail plus events mentioned during Forums. There is no charge to sponsoring organizations. “Upcoming events” focus on public policy topics of interest to Mecklenburg residents that are open to the public. Listings will include any known admission fee. Business and faith house promotions are generally not published. Sign up to receive free weekly e-mails here. An archive of announcements back to 2004 is here.