A dozen people gathered at South County Library for a discussion of Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People this week at New Connections: Let’s Talk! This next phase of the civil discourse book club includes both books and film and enjoys coordination and hosting by Roanoke County Public Libraries.

The group will meet one more time, again at South County Library, on Thursday, October 3, at 6:30 PM.

At the first session, the conversation focused on the first three chapters in which the author identifies social infrastructure as a component in resilient and well functioning communities–the physical conditions that allow and encourage interpersonal networks and relationships.

Activated green spaces such as greenways and community gardens create it. Libraries do too. (“Palaces for the people,” is what Andrew Carnegie called the 2,800 libraries  he built.) Sidewalks and street furniture build social infrastructure, while abandoned buildings and vacant lots in urban settings detract.

While we’ve got great spaces and opportunities for interaction in Roanoke, the group asked the question ‘how can we do more?’ For instance, on the greenway we literally run across lots of folks from different backgrounds and neighborhoods. But is there a chance for greater interaction?

Read the book this week and join the conversation. Here are the questions we’ll consider from this week’s discussion:

  • Where in the community do you feel your positive interactions being shaped by social infrastructure?
  • What changes would you recommend that might encourage more interactions or deeper interactions?



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