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Tackling controversial issues with civility

By: Staff report
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Many find it difficult and disheartening to discuss the issues of the day with friends and neighbors who hold a different opinion.

The community has been divided over numerous issues and challenges — homelessness, poverty, racism, immigration, environmental concerns, development, taxation, drugs and health care to name a few.

Conversations for US hosts free public conversations consisting of an arranged small diverse group that is guided by a professional facilitator and ground rules to ensure a respectful and safe

atmosphere. Observers are 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,” Jerry Silverman, an organizer for Conversations for US, said in an email. “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 $5,000 grant to promote civil discourse in Placer County. During this election season, Conversations for US is 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.

The event will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 18 at Meadow Vista Gardens, 990 Meadow Gate Road, Meadow Vista. RSVP to conversationsforus@gmail.com.