990 Meadow Gate Road
BREAKING THROUGH POLITICAL POLARIZATION IN OUR COMMUNITY
Are you finding it difficult and disheartening to discuss the issues of the day with your friends and neighbors who hold a different opinion? Just as in close personal relationships, when there is a breakdown in trust and communication in communities, the results can be quite destructive. The opposite also holds true, that when we work together and listen to each other, the wellsprings of human caring and compassion can flow into the community. We often see this exhibited during catastrophic events. The question is how can we foster empathy and goodwill in our community on a regular basis and not just during times of crisis? An age-old proven solution has been to build relationships through meaningful personal interactions and face-to-face conversations. This is in contrast to the isolation and social estrangement that often occurs when we rely heavily on the media to relate. Humans are social animals by nature whose individual and societal health and happiness are strongly correlated with having good personal relationships.
Our community has been divided over numerous issues and challenges – homelessness, poverty, racism, immigration, environmental concerns, development, taxation, drugs and healthcare to name a few. Our elected leaders are often stuck in a logjam of special interests that do not seem to accurately reflect popular will. Opinions fly through the airwaves and cyberspace, slogans and messages are massaged and spun, polls are taken, and votes are cast. What does not often occur is a “voice of the people” that emerges from civil, thoughtful conversation among citizens of the community in order to find common ground, unify the community and inform leadership. A requirement to achieving peaceful, sustainable solutions is to have broad, informed participation in our civic affairs. Lacking this, we are susceptible to a breakdown of democracy and “solutions” that are imposed upon us by the few.
To this end, Conversations for US has held free public conversations consisting of an arranged small diverse group that is guided by a professional facilitator and groundrules to ensure a respectful and safe atmosphere. Observers have been welcome and have played an important role in helping to maintain the decorum and focus. Topics have included what is it that makes this country great?; how can we improve?; what divides and unites us?; and what are the qualities of a good citizen? The results were positive, informative, and encouraging as proof that it is possible for people with varying opinions to converse with one another. The general feeling was that this type of peaceful interchange is an essential ingredient for a successful democracy and society.
Placer Community Foundation has recently awarded Conversations for US a $5000 grant to promote civil discourse in Placer County. During this election season we are arranging a series of free conversation events. Each will focus on a single topic. The first event will be about immigration. A subtopic will be “What are our expectations of an ideal congressional representative?” All of the congressional candidates for District 1 and District 4 have been invited to attend as listeners.
September 18 from 6:30 – 9:00 P.M.
Meadow Vista Gardens, 990 Meadow Gate Rd., Meadow Vista, CA
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
To be on our mailing list or to be part of this project as a conversation participant, event attendee, or volunteer – please contact Jerry Silverman at email@example.com