Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 30, 2018 and Island Ad-Vantages, August 30, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, August 30, 2018
Choosing civility: workshops address public, private discourse
by Anne Berleant
Two Civility Workshops will be held in Castine in September that are free and open to the public.
The first, on September 12, addresses issues related to civil discourse, how to participate in constructive conversations with family and friends, and how to have more civil dialogue in public meetings.
The second, on September 19, will provide participants with skills and knowledge to participate in constructive conversations and civil public dialogue.
Apparently, Maine could use more civility: It was chosen by the National Institute of Civil Discourse as one of four states for an intensive yearlong effort to help people improve the way they talk and listen to each other.
The workshops will be held at the Witherle Memorial Library, with Mark Hews, the coordinator for Maine Revives Civility, as facilitator. Participants can attend either or both workshops.
Library Director Anne Romans decided to bring the program to Castine after a participant in the library’s American Politics discussion series asked for a program “aimed at getting people to talk to each other no matter what the question was,” she said.
“People talk about politics all the time, but they’re often talking to people of the same beliefs,” she said. “[Civility] is about people not listening to each other and not shutting down after the first few words.”
Romans discovered Maine Revives Civility by Googling “civility” and “civility in Maine.”
Participants may read Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni beforehand—copies are available at the library or through interlibrary loan—but that is not a requirement. Rather, Hews will use specific quotes to start the workshops and the conversation. Quotes include:
“The greatness of America lies not just in being more enlightened than any other nation but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”—Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, and
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist.
“The greatest challenge in the years ahead is to find a way to retain the confidence of citizens in the legitimacy of government itself.”—James Q. Wilson, political scientist, professor, UCLA and Harvard.
For more information, to request a copy of Choosing Civility, or to register for the workshop, whose limit of participants is “as many as we can fit,” about 40 to 50, Romans said, contact Witherle Memorial Library at 326-4375 or firstname.lastname@example.org.