Civil discourse is an important aspect of building community. The Boise Commons is an organization that creates projects, spaces and campaigns for the community to learn from. They have a new project called Assumption Scope, it’s designed to examine assumptions about major institutions such as education, health care, justice and government.

“My approach to community involvement and advocacy is to address things at the root,” Founder Matthew Shapiro said. “Understanding assumptions is needed to transform and improve our institutions.”

The first project is looking at overdependence on the automobile. A diverse focus group has been chosen comprised of people that work in a related field. The project will run in three phases with the end culminating in some kind of public exhibit yet to be decided. But it could take many different forms from an art show to an open mic forum. The mission of the project is to be aware of common assumptions. By discussing people’s assumptions as a community Shapiro believes people can also find a lot of commonality.

“Deep down everybody needs and wants pretty much the same things; safety, stability and the opportunity for growth, said Shapiro.”

Assumption Scope will run in three phases, all designed to bring assumptions to light so that they can be examined for their validity. The first is weekly two hour meetings where people discuss assumptions they see, a kind of round-robin process. The second phase is to take inventory of these assumptions and put them into a survey that will be given to the community. By doing this the Boise Commons can understand if there’s a consensus about the assumptions people make. Phase three is the public exhibit where the whole community is invited to think about how assumptions shape ideas about how social institutions work.

Although the current project is already underway anyone who wants to participate in the next round can contact the Boise Commons on their website.

“Even just highlighting how powerful it is to explore assumptions and do that on a regular basis would be a huge catalyst for creating change,” said Shapiro. “It we can be conscious of assumptions and examine why we have them we can make positive changes in our communities.”

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