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Last night, a full and diverse audience enjoyed a panel discussion with Tebabu Assefa, Rassa Davoodpour, Megan Moriarty, and Reemberto Rodriguez about the County’s changing demographics.

And I’m talking to you about it on this blog. While technology can make it easy for us to reach out, Davoodpour wonders if we are really communicating. Moriarity and the other panelists agreed, the best way to use social media is to layer it with personal relationships.

Despite the fact that Montgomery is about to become a non-anglo majority County, we still have “a way” of doing things, sometimes, as Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson pointed out, the same 200 people moving from room to room to make decisions.

So how do we plan for a changing community? Assefa stressed that we shouldn’t plan for groups, but with humanity and sustainability in mind, the things we share, and valuing our varied cultures for the texture and interest they add to our lives.

Davoodpour repeated what we heard in the Rethink blogger panel–decode our planner’s jargon and talk to people about the personal impact of the decisions we have to make.

Moriarty took that a step further, urging planners to keep an open mind about how we present material, not just our usual powerpoints, but meeting people where they are–and food, tranportation, and childcare wouldn’t hurt.

And Assefa came up with his own planner jargon–a word I love–“neighborcrats,” local personalities who are civic experts. He urged us to find them and use them.

Next week: Author and economist Michael Shulman on local economies.