by Julie Randolph, Information & Access and Care Coordination Manager
There seems to be no lack of disputes in this world and news coverage often leaves little room to be anything other than on the “us” or “them” side of an issue. There are so many hot button subjects and conflicting points of view. Creating like-minded groups who refuse the inclusion of other thoughts has been the typical response to societal conflicts. Many individuals refuse to walk toward the unknown with curiosity and compassion.
Do you hope for a safe environment to discuss difficult topics with people of all points of view and lived experience? Such a venue would require a fair-minded facilitator gifted in making all participants feel comfortable and respected. Many people are looking for a space to share ideas, thoughts, and perspectives where individuals can gain an understanding of others and connect differences in an amicable way.
This winter I became aware of just such an environment when a friend introduced me to ‘an evening of conversation’ produced by The Breaking Bread Village at the Grace A. Dow Library. I was skeptical but curious, so I attended the event. The welcoming was warm and the environment was one of listening, reflecting, and learning. The panelists provided unique input regarding aging, occupational opportunities, leadership, parenting, gender, economics, marriage, race, history, and even generational clothing styles. I was reminded that there is room for more than just my perceptions and opinions. I was pressed to see how limited my views had become.
I recently sat down with The Breaking Bread Village founder and award-winning leadership coach and educator, Erin Patrice, and discovered that this venue was made possible through her passion for creating spaces for healthy dialog. Erin’s life work has been building bridges between people by using creativity and compassion as the proverbial brick and mortar. Erin encourages everyone to be heard, promotes leadership skills of honor and dignity, and allows each person to see their own bias.
Erin explained that the goal of these conversations is not to resolve a problem. The goal is to develop understanding and greater insight. The attendees navigate through nuances and assumptions and listen to voices that are not always heard. The collective growth, deepened empathy, and exposure to new information are all valuable results of these evenings of conversation.
The next event is May 30th from 7-9 pm (pre-show entertainment is at 6:30 pm) at the Grace A Dow Library, 1710 W St Andrews Rd Midland MI 48640. You can also learn more by visiting their website at www.tbbv.org. I hope to see you there! Your community needs you, and you need your community.