Perhaps you’ll remember my last column — the civility and kindness-themed one in which I illustrated the lack of both these qualities in my children and our nation’s current dialogue. I’m sure you either posted it on your fridge as a cautionary tale to your own children or you added it to the scrapbook you’ve made of all my other brilliant columns.
In case neither applies, let me quickly recap. In late February, a diverse group of nearly 60 people learned to facilitate difficult conversations. Now we’re ready to apply these new skills.
This is where you come in.
When was the last time someone solicited your opinion? Note that I said “solicited.”
I am more than happy to provide opinions completely unasked. I’m super generous that way. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered with great dismay that my views are more deeply valued when they’ve actually been requested. Who knew? You’ll find it hard to believe that this especially holds true for immediate family members.
I remember a couple years ago when Will was telling me about something that had happened at school. After listening to the story, I immediately tried to problem solve. He shut me down. I stopped, thought for a second and then asked, “Wait, do you want me to fix this or just listen?” Turns out, this was a just listen time.
I have great news for you — I am going to invite you to an event where you’ll be asked to listen to others and also asked for your opinion, an opportunity for you to offer your insight, your stories and your experiences around how you would describe our community.
How would you define yourself as a member of this community? If you were going to label yourself, what labels would you use? What do you think others would say if they were asked to describe your role? Have you ever felt like an outsider? Have you seen others excluded?
These are great questions.
Won’t it be fun to have other people actively listening to understand your experiences, thoughts and opinions? All this can be yours.
Reserve your spot or just show up on one of three days later this month to share your stories. We’ve varied the times, so hopefully one will work into your schedule. Bring your friends; bring your neighbors; bring your family. Everyone has stories, and we want to hear them.
For all the details including dates, times and locations, head on over to our website, sheridancvc.org, and look under calendars or call us at (307) 675-0833. All will be revealed.
Amy Albrecht is the executive director of the Center for a Vital Community.