Name: Jorge Romero
Hometown: New York City
Circle Start Date: September 2018
What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?
My day is usually spent with technology companies trying to move projects and initiatives forward. After work, I try to be active in my community. I volunteer with iMentor, helping students get into college, and with Supportive Children’s Action Network (SCAN NY) which helps residents in East Harlem and the Bronx build community and opportunities for a better quality of life. For fun I like painting, photography, playing soccer, and getting into intellectual arguments with my friends.
What attracted you to the Circles?
I believe it was the admiration I had for Ben Franklin, his focus on civic engagement, and his aspiration to be better. I think our Ben Franklin Circle really captures both of these goals. It allows us to have an honest, trusting, civil, and sometimes vulnerable conversation about society or things that are personal. It can help us realize when things need to change. I think that ultimately change begins with individuals but with support and clarity from the ideas of those around you.
Tell us a little about the composition of your group. How did you find members?
Our group is a mix of people who came to the circle through personal contacts, our post on Meetup, those who learned about us from the April 2018 New Yorker article, and people who wanted to continue on from a previous Ben Franklin Circle that finished all 13 virtues. We span a large age-range and set of life experiences but I think the group is defined by honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to listen.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
It has allowed me to be conscious of the skills needed to facilitate conversation versus what it was like to be a participant who was advocating for a specific point. I am learning how to explore important topics deeply, how to explore more topics, and how to move the conversation from a general context to a personal context since the real change comes from ourselves.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
I enjoyed the conversation around Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. The interpretation can be complex. When do you speak up and when don’t you? What is a trifling conversation and how does that relate to the importance or unimportance of small talk? I’ve tried to speak out more about the things I see in my daily life but it is important to balance that with social cohesion.
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
My last commitment was around Temperance. I would like to think that I have kept it but I know I am not perfect. Most importantly, it has allowed me to take a step back and be conscious of making a commitment, which is a giant improvement from mindlessly going forward. It is a work in progress. I have to thank BFC for that; for being able to step back and think.