“As the 2014 election season came to a close many of us were left reflecting on our divisive political system. How did we come to a point where even the most straightforward of questions becomes politicized? With so many looming issues, from climate change, to the spread of disease, to international military conflicts, (don’t think we’ve missed the connection between them!) how have we become so paralyzed?,” writes Brittany Todd, the communications manager of Sierra Business Council on the SBC blog.
“At Peak Innovation last month, a common theme arose. SBC’s 20th Anniversary Conference became a lesson in ‘coming to the table,’ in bringing together people with differing opinions and objectives and finding common ground.
“Acclaimed citizen writer Terry Tempest Williams spoke in length about the strategy during Peak Innovation’s opening night. She gave anecdotes from the gatherings she’s held, coined, ‘Difficult Dinners,’ where thought leaders, divided by background, opinion, political leanings and more, are brought together to share a meal, as well as the societal etiquette that such a social contract demands.
“NY Times Bestselling Author and Co-host of CNN’s Crossfire Van Jones closed Peak Innovation with a similar message. Jones called for us to accept our common ground, or come to the table, and listen. Through listening we can find shared priorities, the possibility of cooperation, and ways in which we may take collaborative action.
“And I didn’t just hear about this simple strategy at Peak Innovation, I saw it in action. I won’t name those who were at the table, but following the Vision Awards Ceremony I found myself in deep conversation with a county supervisor, the head of a conservation group, and a fellow SBC staff member, discussing whether there’s any value in taking local action on climate change when the global picture seems so grim.
“And that’s what it all comes down to. If we can all come to the table and recognize the common ground, the humanity, that represents each of us regardless of opinions, then we can have a real conversation, one where we listen to each other and come to understand how our opinions were formed. Perhaps then we can reach real compromise and start moving forward on the many issues that our world is facing.”
The rest of the article is here.