Community Conversations: Rebuilding civil discourse takes respect

  • Community Conversations: ‘How do we build bridges?’ Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Tom Bassarear of Keene, with Adar Cohen of Peterborough on the left, talks at Community Conversations: ‘How do we build  bridges?’  in Peterborough Wednesday night. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Community Conversations: ‘How do we build bridges?’ Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Community Conversations: ‘How do we build bridges?’ Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Community Conversations: ‘How do we build bridges?’ Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Community Conversations: ‘How do we build bridges?’ Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Community Conversations: ‘How do we build bridges?’ Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Community Conversations: ‘How do we build bridges?’ Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/17/2020 9:27:31 PM

Rebuilding civil discourse takes respecting people who have different opinions then you and understanding that we usually want the same things for society and our lives, the conversation sparkers said at Wednesday night’s Community Conversations.

Building bridges and fostering civil discourse in our divisive times was the focus of this Community Conversations.

One of the conversation sparkers, Tom Bassarear of Keene talked about his work founding the Monadnock Civil Discussion Group, a bipartisan group that meets monthly in Keene.

“We realized that we had a lot of biases and stereotypes about ‘the others’ and those biases and stereotypes have dissolved. We may not agree, but we see human beings much more now and its that personal connection that’s made the difference,” he said. “What we all believe, and what we recognized is we all want democracy. Every person in that group wants freedom of speech and to be respected. We want a country with fair elections and equal opportunity for success. But we have very different ideas of how to accomplish that.”

Another conversation sparker, Grace Aldrich of Dublin said she works to create “bridges of understanding” where there is “tension” over racial justice.

Aldrich, whose mother is white and father African-American, is co-creator of the Peterborough Town Library discussion series, “Talking about Race: Staying Curious, Moving Forward, and Being Part of the Solution.”

“It’s naturally a bridge that I’m crossing every day,” she said referring to her own heritage.

She also talked about “Walking with Grace” – “a series of witnessing walks to immigration detention centers to end child detention and family separation.”

She said she started the project last year “to cross a bridge over to her own humanity,” she said.

“When I found out about the separation policies at the border, it just pierced me,” she said. “I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t going to do something about it.”

Aldrich also talked about practicing joy and how important it is for people to know “what their wholeness is” and where they find pleasure in life.

“No one wants to cross a bridge if you are miserable on the other side.”

Community Conversations is a series created in a partnership between the Monadnock Center for History and Culture and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript.

Community Conversations plans to meet next month for “Opinion, fact or fiction: How to tell the difference” on Wednesday, March 11, at 6 p.m. at the Monadnock Center.


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