Our Sunday, 2/19/17 4-6PM exploratory conversation about whether and how to establish a Guild for Civil Politics produced a consensus of interest.
Doors were opened at 3:30PM, and 15 people gathered at Norton Buffalo Hall. Some brought wine and a little food -- a nice addition. We dove in at 4PM.
We each shared how we felt about our politics-dominated cultural climate in light of the recent polarizing elections. Most were alarmed, saddened or depressed by the extremely negative interactions they've had with family, friends and neighbors. A few saw the upside -- there's a lot of interest in changing the status quo in politics.
I showed Chuck Todd's Data Download segment from Sunday morning's Meet the Press on NBC, which provided a good snapshot of the mood of the country. Our group was pretty well represented in the report.
The concern is, how do we function as a community when we are so polarized?
We took 20 minutes to view a TEDNYC interview with Jonathan Haidt, an NYU Stern professor and author of the 2011 New York Times Bestseller, The Righteous MInd: Why Good People Disagree On Politics And Religion.
Following the video we took time to share a little more deeply about ourselves and what we may be looking for in a group dedicated to substantive dialogue with people who don't share our point of view.
After a short break we resumed the conversation, then watched a video from A2Ethics (Ann Arbor, MI) on their annual Big Ethical Question Slam, an annual event that brings community groups together at a local pub for an ethics competition. The value of the event is in seeing our friends and neighbors form ethical opinions in real time in order to defend them. It's insightful. We discussed the potential of doing something similar in the fall.
A concern was raised that "Civil Politics" may be a turn-off to potential participants. We settled instead on "Guild for Civil Dialogue" for now.
This blog and page are the result of our efforts so far.
We agreed to meet again on Sunday, March 19, 4-6PM to take up a task, a topic, and a challenge.
Our task is to adopt "rules for the road." We agreed not to reinvent the wheel, and everyone was encouraged to research what basic agreements others use for similar projects and bring them to the meeting. We intend a speedy adoption so that we can focus on our topic as soon as possible.
Colleen mentioned the Rules of the Road used by Daily Kos as a potential model.
Lisa has since found three sources she liked:
Challenge: We've started with plenty of progressives/liberals, and we need more conservatives for our dialogue to be rich. We each agreed to accept the challenge to bring a conservative to the next meeting.
See you next time!