Article first appeared on tucson.com
The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Over 180 strangers gathered in November 2016, searching for a way to process the election results and begin to move past the negative discourse that followed the last presidential election. With the Center for Community Dialogue and Training (a program of Our Family Services) leading the way, this group began to talk and to listen. Talking was easy, listening the harder part of the equation.
At first the room was quiet, but when the dialogue circles began you could see and feel the connections beginning to be made through thoughtful facilitated conversations.
With a country even more divided and an election season even more divisive than we have ever experienced in the past, a lack of civil discourse is clearly at play. Family members have stopped talking to one another, threats and bullying are commonplace on social media, political signs are being vandalized, and Twitter seems to be on fire.
As we approach Election Day and with many of us already having participated in early voting, some of our thoughts and discussions have now moved to the question of how do we come back together as a community? How can we move past the negativity of the campaign? How do we begin to find our way, together, to reestablish a cohesive community?
Along with those questions is the fear that maybe we cannot, that the divide among us is going to linger and potentially widen.
The Center for Community Dialogue and Training invites our neighbors to come together once again, to talk through our thoughts and feelings, and to share experiences that aim to help us move past partisan rhetoric and rejoin as a community. The purpose of this event is to provide a safe space for respectful conversation, allowing participants to explore their own and others’ perspectives about their role in America and their hopes for the country after the election.
The Center will host two facilitated conversations, pre- and post-election: Here Comes the Vote! Who Cares? and After the Vote: Now What? respectively.
On Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6-8 p.m., using a virtual format, the first conversation will be dedicated to dialogue circles, where we will have trained facilitators moderate respectful conversations reflecting on values, experiences and civic responsibility.
This event will also have an educational component where we delve into the neurobiology of conflict, teach a nonviolent communication skill, and provide accurate voting information and resources.
The second conversation on Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 6-8 p.m. will take similar form, focusing on a space for respectful dialogue to process post-election feelings, find connection and explore paths forward.
One thing on which I believe we will all agree on, is a feeling of relief when the election itself is finally over. Regardless of the outcome, we can work together to find common ground upon which we can continue to make Tucson a wonderful place for all of us.