For most small communities, the digital age has not provided the sort of face-to-face, constructive and civil debate that drives true innovation and accomplishment. Nuances get lost online and opinions and facts have a greater potential to blur together, with real and potentially destructive consequences on important issues.
Which is why we are proud to welcome back The Express Sessions to The American Hotel this week, a series of issue-based conversations over lunch with a panel of experts leading the debate. The series started one year ago with the issue of affordable housing, easily one of the most critical issues facing the South Fork. Both East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman came to the table for that conversation, and both have shown a commitment in the last year to make affordable housing a cornerstone issue for each of their administrations.
Parking and transportation, specifically with regard to Sag Harbor Village, was another session. Perhaps no singular issue divides Sag Harbor residents more, with divergent needs and views on how to best solve this decades-old issue that seemingly gets worse summer after summer.
The impact of home sharing companies like Airbnb on the real estate market was another conversation we had last year. We also offered community members information and resources on issues like renewable energy and health insurance. As Sag Harbor seems to grow more and more into a community dominated by arts and culture, we talked about that landscape and some of the partnerships, and challenges, that will emerge as a result of this evolution. The conversations were lively, and in many cases, productive.
This week we look ourselves in the mirror and welcome a panel of journalists to discuss the role of community journalism in a changing world of modern media. We welcome criticism and look forward to the discussion. The press, even at the local level, has the potential to wield significant social and political influence. And especially with community newspapers, we look to serve our readers and provide important information and guidance on issues that matter to them most.
This Friday’s Express Session has sold out. What is the topic for February? Affordable housing. Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. Van Scoyoc will be back, giving us an opportunity to talk about what has been accomplished in the last 12 months and what we can look forward to in the next year. We hope to see you at the hotel and can’t wait to hear what you have to say.