70 years ago Franklin Roosevelt gave what was later termed the "Map Speech" as one of his series of fireside chats throughout World War II. In anticipation of his radio address he asked all Americans to buy world maps. The response was overwhelming. Over 80% of citizens listened to the President's address on February 23rd, 1942 in which he detailed the progress of the wars both in Europe and in the Pacific, while citizens used their maps to follow along at home.
While the Atlanta region is not faced with mobilizing its citizens for a war effort, it does face significant communication challenges in advance of several hundred thousand residents going to the polls this summer to consider an additional sales tax to support transportation investments. Whatever decision a voter makes, it is critical that an individual's choice is based on the facts about how the tax works and what projects will be supported by this additional revenue. The project list is diverse- improving both the existing network and expanding options for the future. But with over 157 projects on the regional list alone, there's a lot of information for busy people to review.
Residents from throughout the ten county area are invited to participate in any of 12 wireside chats. These hour long telephone conversations hosted by local officials, will feature a brief overview of the referendum and some of the major projects, followed by a forum for questions and answers.
Advertised 6 weeks in advance, citizens will be asked to sign up for any of the 12 chats providing a phone number at which they can be reached. Several days in advance they will receive email reminders with background information attached. The night of the scheduled conversation, citizens will be called at the number they registered and have the opportunity to ask questions. Any question not answered live will be answered in writing following the call.
Like the fireside chats from 70 years ago, these discussions provide information to citizens in their home rather than requiring them to attend a meeting in person. But unlike the radio addresses of many years so, citizens will have the opportunity to interact and have their own questions addressed.