Yes, we can talk in Wisconsin, after all
After a nasty, race-baiting election filled with harsh rhetoric, political shenanigans and social media mischief, you have to wonder if Americans have lost their minds.
Turns out, though, if you get people in a room — even if they disagree politically — they can still have a reasonable discussion.
Turns out, in fact, that most people still want to talk.
I looked into methods used around the country (including in Milwaukee) to promote civil dialogue and found encouraging signs.
The Journal Sentinel, WUWM-FM (89.7) and the Millennial Action Project along with the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion co-sponsored two events last fall featuring the Zeidler approach. Zeidler uses facilitators to lead small groups, setting ground rules and refereeing discussions. The groups included self-indentified Republicans, Democrats and independents.
"Zeidler facilitators help maintain a safe space for discussion; they are not participants but rather leaders of the dialogue. They keep anonymous notes of the discussion and also keep the time so that everyone gets an equal chance to be heard. Afterward, the center often publishes a report highlighting major themes and some individual contributions to the dialogue.
'In the last event, people got up at the end and said, ‘I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more diversity in my group but then we went around at the end and I was just shocked that I was sitting with the enemy the whole time,’ said Katherine Wilson, executive director of the Zeidler Center. 'More than one person said that, and to me, that’s a total win.' "