Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year End Assessment: Coffee House Conversations Project

Bottom Line: Community dialogue in our locale has been a promising first step, but only a first step. 

We’ve still a long way to go, if systemic change of the whole is our aim. Which for New Horizons it definitely is.

As New Horizons first year of Coffee House Conversations began to wind down, following our final 2015 conversation’s event on December 5, Coffee House Conversation #3 on Humanizing our Citizen-Police Relations, my mind instinctively moved to assessment. 

What had we accomplished in this year of approximately nine major Coffee House Conversation events and many energetic behind-the- scenes planning meeting?

Pluses and minuses from a year well spent. What was our net?

At the top of the list, certainly, is that New Horizons made a lot of new friends, drew people together of a like-minded bent, at least those having a yearning to connect through dialogue with the hope of strengthening our shared spaces.

A promising first step! With that I am pleased and gratified.

Then there was the downside that I began to pore over; the weak spots that, when viewed from a reflective distance, were of concern to me.

Here are a few of these.  They are already showing up on my 2016 “to do” list insofar as I/we (meaning the collective at New Horizons) can be a part of solutions.

Areas where our program and participants need to develop proficiency, if true “exceptional community” development is a goal, which it most certainly is for us.
  • Being able to truly enter into dialogue and move beyond debate with emotionally charged issues;
  • Risking getting into emotionally charged issues that will need to be addressed if genuine community health is desired;
  • Conflict resolution (at New Horizons we call this moving from “snags to synergy);”
  • Learning to truly “lean in” to people who are different or who hold markedly different viewpoints, especially where emotionally charged issues present and need to be addressed for the good of the whole;
  • Developing compassion and understanding regarding differences;
  • Developing endurance and patience with the process of systematic community change upon which we are only newly embarking.
As I end this year of 2015, still recuperating from my recent cornea transplant surgery, these items are high on my list. I hope they are, also, objectives that matter to others in my neighborhood who will be courage enough to pursue them. These do, indeed, take a courage not everyone has -- yet. (Maybe they will later when they find out the benefits.)

On behalf of my devoted New Horizons Board of Directors, this is our way of saying that we are certain that the societal change to which we are committed is, indeed, a process, not an event, even a series of them as richly rewarding as our 2015 Coffee House Conversations.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Coffee House Conversations: The Love Story Behind It All

As 2015 nears its end and annual recaps come to the fore, we thought our readers and Possible Society In Motion Radio Show listeners might enjoy listening to the podcast of the love story behind the Coffee House Conversations Project.

Here is the link to the radio show that introduced the project through the story titled “Leaning Into Conversations on Race Relations: A Love Story.” 

If it inspires you to share how this past year of societal turbulence affected you, please write us by email at: or post your comments on this site.  

We would so much like to know how you have been affected and possibly moved into action in your own personal ways. After all, whatever it is that is going on, we are in it together.

You might also enjoy reading my blog article today at Anastasia The Storyteller titled “Coffee House Conversations And A Year Of Leaning In Lessons."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In An Era of Societal Stress

Does polarization among citizens, such as our politicians serve us up as daily fare, make sense? 

Or might our strength and our hope for “peace on earth” lie elsewhere such as finding opportunities for meaningful dialogue rather than debate to help us cross whatever divides one from another?

Anastasia and Jack explore this topic in tonight’s Possible Society In Motion Radio Show broadcast, "Dialogue Rather Than Debate In An Era of Societal Stress."

In this era of supreme societal stress with concerns such as terrorism, highly charged race and police relations, are U.S. citizens doing enough to combat these threats by merely giving voice to these matters?

Or is there more to be done that can be done? And even make a difference?

Anastasia takes a firm stand on the need for citizens to engage in ongoing dialogue with the intent to learn from others, the developing of skill in the art of dialogue and the ability to grow toward one another across whatever separates.

Tune in tonight to hear Anastasia and Jack discussing 

On the 

With Anastasia and Jack Slattery

Also join us for --- 

Thursday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m.

This Week’s Tentative Agenda 

Your take on “Dialogue Rather Than Debate In An Era of Societal Stress”

Follow these easy steps and you’re in! 
  1. Dial in at: 712.432.0600, access code 640883#;
  2. Say your name and; 
  3. Welcome to Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call with Anastasia and Jack; 
  4. Stay as long as you like until around 8:00 or 8:30 p.m.
  5. Just listen and say nothing or speak up and get into the heat of the discussion.