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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: March 7

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Guthrie accepting input from progressive constituents

Around 50 local people were given time to speak their minds and have their messages delivered to their U.S. representative on Thursday.

People involved with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the ACLU, the Women’s Network, Citizens Concerned for Human Relations and the Boyle County Democratic Party participated in the informal meeting with Rep. Brett Guthrie’s District Director Mark Lord.

The people at the meeting are not likely to be fans of or voters for Guthrie; they have many different priorities from the conservative Republican. But that’s why this meeting is healthy — as a U.S. representative, Guthrie was elected by conservatives and Republicans, but his job is now to represent all the people in his district. He cannot do that job appropriately without paying attention to those who disagree with him.

This is what a liberal democracy looks like: Citizens are allowed to speak their mind and government officials are tasked first with listening and then carrying out the will of the people in as careful and balanced a manner as possible.

In weaker, less robust democracies around the world, you won’t find the same to be true. Those with power work ceaselessly to delegitimize, silence or even imprison their opponents.

In America, we instead have meetings like Thursday’s, which acknowledge elected officials as leaders and recognize the rights of citizens to disagree with their leaders.

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Educational water plant park a great idea

Danville’s pursuit of a grant to expand plans for an educational park at the newly upgraded water treatment plant doesn’t really have a downside.

If successful, the city isn’t expecting to spend any additional money, but it will get an educational park area where local students can learn about the water cycle and how their actions can directly impact the quality of their drinking water.

It’s an idea that really gets cool when it’s combined with a second phase of signs along trails all around Danville, where you can witness the actual steps in the water cycle occurring. Kids can learn the science and terminology of the water cycle, and then they can go see it in action in their community.

Here’s how that extra education plays out long-term to our benefit: Future generations will be more aware of the impact they can have on their local environment and more likely to avoid damaging activities. That will mean our water remains cleaner, healthier and in need of less treatment to be safe. That means water treatment will be cheaper and require fewer upgrades and improvements, keeping costs to taxpayers low but quality of life high.

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Popping bubbles by playing basketball

Hari Perisic has a great idea for bridging the social gap between the Centre College and Danville/Boyle communities: a friendly basketball tournament followed by an honest discussion about local issues.

Perisic wants to hold the ”BCD 3v3” event on April 22. It’s designed to attract athletic types with the basketball tournament prior to the discussion and bring in others with a street party afterward.

Many people would agree with Perisic that the Centre and Boyle/Danville communities often exist in separate “bubbles.” It’s a very common situation everywhere around the world — groups of people only spend time with their own groups and others become strange or even distrusted.

The way to break these barriers is not easy but it is simple: make friends with people outside your group. This is the solution that the basketball tournament idea seeks.

We hope the tournament happens and that many new “cross-bubble” friendships can be formed. And we hope both groups find ways to make those friendships continue long after the tournament is over. Even if the bubbles are “popped,” it won’t be long until the bubbles reform if we don’t make conscious efforts to maintain our new connections.