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Vernon founded the "With An Open Mind" Discussion Group" in February of 2008. The intent was to provide a forum in which people could share their views on a wide variety of topics in a non-dogmatic, non-confrontational manner. The approach is to hold moderated discussion meetings, approximately twice a month, during which participants can exchange perspectives on preannounced topics. No advance preparation is required ... indeed, it is somewhat discouraged, so no one can come to the meeting as an "expert".
The formal portion of the meeting typically lasts approximately two hours, but the formal portion is often followed by a more informal portion. The formal portion is moderated, with the moderator posing leading questions and tactfully enforcing the requirements that only one person at a time may speak and all comments must be addressed to the group as a whole rather that "at" a specific individual. The intent is that everyone be heard when sharing his or her perspective, and that there be no one-on-one confrontations.  By contrast, the informal portion of the meeting, when it occurs, is far more "free flowing", often with one-on-one conversations taking place all over the room.
Discussions have covered a broad range of topics, including ethics, philosophy, politics, science, and theology. As of the end of August, 2011, the group had discussed approximately 85 different topics.
Management of the Group has been facilitated by use of Meetup.com, a web site that enables the general announcement of meetings, the automatic notification, via recurring broadcast email messages, of topic, meeting time, meeting place, etc. to interested parties, and the tracking of RSVP's.
For a list of previously discussed topics and access to the schedule of upcoming topics, click on the following link: