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The debate among the four armchair philosophers will take place June 8 in Minnesota

Lake Oswego resident Louise Mengelkoch shared that she is a finalist in a "strange but interesting contest" — the essay portion of the Great American Think-Off.

She is one of four finalists, who have won $500 and a trip to New York Mills, Minnesota, for a live debate.

Sponsored by the Cultural Center of New York Mills, the debate prompts finalists to argue their side of the question, "To vote or not to vote: does it matter?"

Two finalists will assert that yes, voting matters, while the other two finalists will argue that no, voting does not matter.COURTESY PHOTO  - Lake Oswego resident Louise Mengelkoch will debate the question 'Does voting matter?' during the Great American Think-Out taking place in New York Mills, Minnesota. June 8.

The debate among the four armchair philosophers will take place June 8.

The other finalists include Rick Brundage of St. Paul, Minnesota., David Lapakko of Richfield, Minnesota, and Jennifer Nelson of Fridley, Minnesota.

Mengelkoch and Nelson will argue yes, voting matters while Brundage and Lapakko will argue no, voting doesn't matter.

Now in its 27th year, the Great American Think-Off is an exhibition of civil disagreement between powerful ideas being explored by everyday people.

Designed to make philosophy accessible for all the contest has received national acclaim including coverage by C-SPAN, The New York Times and "The Today Show."

The Cultural Center, located in the rural farm and manufacturing town of New York Mills, sponsors the annual philosophy contest and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate.

The Cultural Center is a rural hub for creativity, community vitality and lifelong learning in the arts.

Since its incorporation in 1990, the organization has been passionate about connecting people to artists and rich cultural experiences in rural Minnesota, celebrating the local and being a window to the world.

Learn more online at

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