BY DIANE GALE ANDREASSI
Civility is a rare commodity in a time when we’re bombarded by rude comments on social media and political forums.
Can U have a civil conversation with someone about a topic you don’t agree? If it’s something you think about, Highland’s CommUnity Dinner might be just what you want.
In partnership with the Highland Township Library, Highland White Lake Business Association and Highland Township Community Roundtable, as well as corporate sponsor Flagstar Bank, the event is $15 from 5 to 8 p.m. on October 19 at Highland Station House, 205 W. Livingston. The food will be prepared by Highland House restaurant and the public is not only invited to attend, they’re encouraged to take part.
“I hope we can bring a bigger awareness to everyone who attends that we have control how we look at things and how we say things,” explained Highland Treasurer Judy Cooper, chairperson of the Community Roundtable. “Basically, civility starts at home and if we start it small, hopefully it will spread.”
The event will start on a light note with Improvisation Incorporated looking at conversations gone awry. U.S. Congresswoman Haley Stevens, a Democrat, and state Sen. Ruth Johnson, a Republican, will talk about how they work across the aisle from one another and what they view as effective communication skills.
Dinner attendees will have three questions at each of their tables to spark and guide conversations through role playing practice. The idea is teaching how to listen and learn to accept an opposing point of view without being rude.
“The goal is that this will be the first of many library programs on civility,” Cooper said.
Agreeing to disagree
“I’m learning as we go through this and talking about how to think through my interactions,” halloran said. “It’s not, not speaking up. Sometimes I think people think civility is always about being nice and kind. There is a way to disagree respectfully. I think it’s listening with open curiosity so you can understand each other better. If you want to move forward, that understanding is necessary.”
The library will also have sharable books focused on tips and tools that people can use when they think about their future conversations, “maybe over their Thanksgiving dinner tables and with neighbors and friends who might have different ideas than they do,” halloran said.
“We’ve seen lots of other kinds of initiatives, including from the McCann family to encourage us to move forward with more civility particularly as we move forward in an election year,” she added. “People get frustrated with the tenor, particularly around political issues. How can we make this better?”