Editor’s Note: Victoria is a communications manager for the Bush Foundation. This blog post originally appeared on the Foundation’s blog, Courageous Leadership. The Respectful Conversations Project is supported by a grant from the Bush Foundation with InCommons.
My husband and I are having our friends over this holiday weekend, and as it often does on these occasions, the topic of what to serve for dessert reared its ugly head.
“I’m going to make a coconut cake,” I told him.
He made a perturbed wrinkle with his mouth and replied, “But I have all that nice fresh rhubarb. Would make a great pie.” Then he added, “Mary really likes rhubarb pie.”
My hands went to my hips. “Yes, but Joe likes my coconut cake. And after all, it is his birthday we’re celebrating.”
I don’t need to describe too much more of our exchange (except to note that Joe’s birthday was the knockout punch I needed) because we all have these conversations, whether they’re about cake versus pie, tax versus spend, or single-payer versus free-market health care. One such conversation going on in Minnesota right now has to do with whether citizens should ban gay marriage by enacting a constitutional amendment.
The Bush Foundation has a stance on tough problems like these—the best solutions come when citizens act as courageous leaders and engage in open and respectful conversation that let them craft together sustainable solutions that ensure and improve the vitality of their communities.
A recent edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune featured a commentary
by Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC), about the Respectful Conversations Project, an effort to engage congregations in civil discussions about the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. According to Rev. Chemberlin, “The goal of each of these conversations is to soften hearts, not to change minds. We do not aim to influence the vote; we want to influence the tenor of the conversation.”
These conversations are going on now and will continue up until the November election. You can register to attend a conversation, sign up to be a table host or explore having your congregation host a conversation at the Respectful Conversations Project website
And if you’re not sure just what we mean by “respectful conversations,” you might want to check out this short video from the Theater of Public Policy
about the do’s and don’ts of respectful conversations. For demonstration purposes, they address the controversial issue of cake versus pie. (How that’s for coincidence?)