‘Thriving Communities’ to offer compelling, civil discussion of issues of our time The first 'Thriving Communities,' at 4 p.m. April 20 at Connecticut College, will focus on the arts and will begin with the question, 'Do the Arts Matter?' A grant from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut allowed the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Stephan Tiezan and principal cellist Christine Coyle to visit elementary schools in the region, to help students prepare for the annual Young People's concert, held Oct. 18 at The Garde Arts Center. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Read The Day article . The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut this month will launch “Thriving Communities,” a series of four public conversations in 2017 where the goal is safe, civil discourse that encourages contrasting points of view, requires respectful listening and results in new understanding. All four conversations will be held at educational institutions throughout the region during the academic year to encourage our youth to participate. Experts with insight into the topics at hand will be invited to join the conversations as will Community Foundation donors and nonprofit partners, state and community leaders and members of the public. National Public Radio’s John Dankosky will moderate the first two conversations. He is the executive editor of NPR’s New England News Collaborative; host of “NEXT,” a weekly program about New England; and former vice president of news for the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network and host of “Where We Live.” The first conversation will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at Connecticut College, and will start with the question, “Do the Arts Matter?” The second will take place at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, at Kelly Middle School in Norwich and will tackle empowering our youth. Two more conversations are in the planning stages for the fall and will focus on women’s rights and environmental preservation. Each conversation will last for about an hour. A brief reception will follow and the Community Foundation will offer small grants to nonprofits and affiliated student groups who want to continue the discussion, in the hope that the knowledge gained and the bonds formed will energize us all and lead to great things for eastern Connecticut and beyond.