When Walton County Snowbirds land on the Emerald Coast, they seek out others with similar interests and spend time getting to know each other. Often the conversations center on social aspects such as family, favorite places to visit, pastimes, and background.


Although Snowbirds have common reasons for spending time in this area of Florida during the winter, their opinions on other matters can be diverse.


The Discussion Group provides a weekly time for members to express varying ideas concerning current issues.


Joanne Disch and Jane Barnsteiner took over as coordinators about five years ago, keeping the format established by previous leaders. Also carrying over for several seasons have been about a dozen participants of the 20 or so attending each week.


At the end of each series, participants are asked to submit topics for the upcoming season.


In addition, each fall, Joanne and Jane email people they anticipate will return asking for further suggestions.


Discussions on the 2019-2020 agenda have concerned e-cigarettes, DNA testing, the importance and cost of higher education, free speech limits, self care during the election cycle, and expectations and actualities of retirement. Previous subjects have been homelessness, gun control and gun safety, favorite technologies, government intervention, and personal choice for Person of the Year.


Topics for the entire series are shared at the first meeting. Each week, a short overview of the upcoming topic and a list of related questions is emailed to the members. After the first meeting, a summary of the previous week’s discussion is sent as well.


This season, the group has met on eight Wednesdays from 5-6:30 p.m. at two venues, the Bayside Snowbird Lounge at the Sandestin Conference Center and the Community Room at Hidden Dunes Resort. The schedule is posted in the activities section of the Snowbirds’ website, www.waltoncountysnowbirds.com


During the meetings, each person speaks on the subject for two to three minutes and then the discussion is opened up as time permits. One group member relates that they have been prompted to further investigate some of the issues as a result of what was said.


Jane and Joanne don’t participate in a similar group in their non-Florida homes in the north.


However, members of the group have taken the format and topics to their communities and established groups there. Some previous participants that no longer travel to this area have asked to stay on the email list and so remain connected.


The last session has traditionally involved sharing of favorite books and movies along with refreshments.


REMINDERS


Access www.waltoncountysnowbirds.com for activities that extend past the last general meeting held on Feb. 19 at the Santa Rosa Beach Community Church.


Storage information is posted on the above mentioned website.


Debra Wynn, whose other home is in Connecticut, is looking forward to her fifth year as a Walton County Snowbirds’ member.