Free Speech & Civility…How do we find a balance? Save the Date (Oct. 24) for a Robust Community Conversation

You’ve maybe seen some new red, white and blue posters going up—flyers advertising the Oct. 24 Sisters Country Community Conversation on Freedom of Speech. Mark your calendars—you’ll want to attend this thought-provoking evening, starting at 5:30 p.m. You’ll enjoy local panelist insights along with audience discussion. Thank you to our sponsors—The Lodge in Sisters, Paulina Springs Books, The Ford Family Foundation and St. Charles Health System—for helping to make this event possible. We also appreciate the local volunteers who have been helping to distribute posters and get the word out! (For more details about the event, click HERE.)

And special thanks go to The Nugget Newspaper for joining C4C to co-present the event and to The Nugget staff for every week helping to foster important discussions in our community.

Below, you’ll find Editor Jim Cornelius’ editorial from this week’s (Sept. 25) edition of The Nugget…

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is the bedrock on which our political, social and cultural discourse rests. In the coming weeks, readers of The Nugget will find in these pages commentary on the nature and meaning of these 45 crucial words, starting in this edition with some challenging thoughts from retired attorney Pete Shepherd of Sisters (Read Pete’s engaging column here). Should robocalls be considered “free speech” under First Amendment protection? The implications of how we look at that everyday question are… interesting.

Shepherd is one of four panelists who will lead a lively — and entertaining —discussion of the First Amendment on Thursday, October 24, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Sisters Fire Hall.

Freedom of expression, freedom of conscience — how do these play out in law? How do they play out in a culture where some attempt to silence or “cancel” expression they don’t like? How do we promote civility in our discourse without shackling free speech?

These questions are trickier than they might first appear. The forthcoming columns and the community discussion will wrestle with them — and the Sisters community is invited to participate. After all, it’s OUR right. —Jim Cornelius

“Let's Talk” Series Encourages Diversity of Thought

a New C4C offering is finding area residents enjoying quality conversations about sometimes-challenging topics

Let’s Talk is a nonpartisan, Sisters Country discussion series that explores local topics of significance from a variety of perspectives. The series grew out of last October’s “Across the Divides” workshop. About 35 area residents who self-identify across the political spectrum participated in that event. Afterward, several participants decided they would like to continue to meet and discuss local and sometimes-challenging topics.

Let’s Talk conversations began in January. The discussions are informal but moderated to make sure everyone has a chance to be heard. Meetings typically take place on the third Monday of each month. Attendees nominate and help coordinate topics for discussion, which in the past have included Sisters Country growth, trails, homelessness and marijuana.

Ultimately, the series offers attendees an opportunity to get to know others in our community better while sharing their thoughts and experiences and listening to others’ perspectives in a respectful setting. Diversity of thought is welcome and also encouraged.

The evening also offers time for connecting and a short group activity aimed at fostering a communication skill, for example: active listening.

Check back in for more about this new series. Or, subscribe to our E-Newsletter and be among the first to hear when there’s news about Let’s Talk or to get notices about upcoming meetings (or other C4C events). Simply fill out the subscription form below.

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C4C sponsors collaboration workshop

From the Nugget Newspaper, March 26, 2019
By Sue Stafford

“Getting the Most from Collaboration” is the topic for the April 19 quarterly workshop offered by Citizens4Community (C4C) from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sisters Fire Hall Community Room.

Steve Greenwood, the workshop instructor with 35 years of experience, is the faculty leader for Portland State University’s graduate certificate program in Collaborative Governance, as well as director of Training and Academic Services for the National Policy Consensus Center at PSU. He is the former director of Oregon Solutions and has taught collaborative skills at conferences and seminars nationally and internationally.

Like C4C, he is participating in a statewide Ford Family Foundation initiative aimed at building stronger, more connected and resilient communities. Greenwood is a graduate of the School of Community Service and Public Affairs at the University of Oregon, and received his Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

In 1991, he received a Fullbright fellowship to help the government of Portugal with its solid-waste policy. In 2007, he earned the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the University of Oregon’s Planning, Public Policy, and Management Program.

“We really appreciate the work of presenter Steve Greenwood, and we’re excited to have someone with his expertise and background leading this upcoming workshop. Attendees typically would pay a lot more for this kind, length, and caliber of course, but because of Steve’s generosity and that of some key sponsors, we’ve been able to keep the costs quite low, so we expect a strong response,” said C4C representative Amy Burgstahler.

This workshop is part of a C4C ongoing leadership and community-building series designed to cultivate a more engaged and enabled community of local leaders and connectors. It comes on the heels of C4C’s January 30 event on building facilitation skills.

“Existing and aspiring community leaders had the chance to hone their skills for facilitating projects and meetings,” Burgstahler said.

Workshop attendees will learn Greenwood’s concepts and skills that can be applied to a broad range of situations — including civic projects, policy-making, business and workplace, and even family dynamics. After learning collaborative principles and elements of process, participants will try hands-on skill-building and gain collaborative tools to make working with others more rewarding.

Grants awarded to C4C by St. Charles Health System and Deschutes County are helping to bring this local learning opportunity to the Sisters Country community at a reduced rate of $30 per person. Ray’s Food Place and Sisters Coffee Company will again provide food and beverages.

— Click HERE for more information and to learn how you can reserve your free seat for this valuable workshop. —

Sisters bookstore owner joins C4C Team

Lane Jacobson

Lane Jacobson

C4C is excited to announce a new board member—Lane Jacobson, owner of Paulina Springs Books—who will be helping us encourage a culture of bridge-building within Sisters Country.

Lane was born and raised in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and from an early age had an appreciation for the sense of community that a small town can foster.

In 2012, Lane relocated to North Carolina to finish his degrees in English and Anthropology with UNC Chapel Hill. After graduating, Lane worked as a buyer and manager at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. Last fall Lane relocated to Sisters and assumed ownership of Paulina Springs Books.

He currently serves on the American Booksellers Association's Committee on Diversity, which is focused on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in the book and publishing industries. He is especially interested in sustainability practices and the intersection of culture, government and community.

Notes Lane: “I believe in the importance of organizations like C4C to maintain community, restore dialogue, and promote civility, especially in times of national and political division.”

Like many in Central Oregon, Lane is an avid climber, backpacker, fisher, and snowboarder. 

Welcome to the community and to C4C, Lane.

Meet other members of the C4C board HERE.

C4C sponsoring facilitation training

From The Nugget News, January 15, 2019
By Sue Stafford

Community volunteers can improve their skills and confidence to collectively address issues and opportunities through a January 30 Citizens4Community workshop.

From 5 to 8 p.m. at the Sisters Fire Hall Community Room, located at 301 S. Elm St., Sisters residents can gather for a free light meal and instruction from professional facilitator Terry Buchholz, who will help attendees build their practical facilitation skills.

Buchholz will be teaching how to lead more effective and more collaborative gatherings - meetings that produce real and sustainable results. The training will help people feel more confident about facilitating meetings, work sessions, or projects for their nonprofits, businesses, churches, HOAs, schools, and more.

C4C chairman Robyn Holdman told The Nugget, "We're offering this session as one way to help empower our local volunteers and those who would like to be more active in leading community action or activities." She went on to say, "As the visioning effort moves toward implementation and direct actions in the community, we do think it will be especially helpful if as many people as possible are willing and ready to spearhead talks, tasks, or projects."

With more than 35 years of experience, Terry Buchholz is the principal facilitator and strategist for Integrated Water Solutions. She has become known in the Pacific Northwest for her ability to convene collaborative processes that achieve implementable consensus solutions. She has helped a diverse range of organizations, including tribes, state and local agencies, and stakeholder organizations.

There will be another session in the spring focusing on collaboration after this session on facilitation.

The free community meal and a chance to connect with other community members will be offered from 5 to 5:45 p.m. The workshop runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

St. Charles Health Center and Deschutes County have provided support for this local learning opportunity to help strengthen the base of local volunteers. With that help and Buchholz's generosity, the workshop is being made available for a nominal $5 per person that will be collected at the door.

— Click HERE for more information and to learn how you can reserve your free seat for this valuable workshop. —

Terry Buchholz will lead the January 30 C4C workshop.

Terry Buchholz will lead the January 30 C4C workshop.

Workshop to reach 'Across the (Political) Divide'

— This free session will help participants move past political discord and navigate their ways toward stronger relationships —

From the Nugget Newspaper, Oct. 10, 2018
By Sue Stafford

In the spirit of election season, Citizens4Community is sponsoring an "Across the Divide" workshop 4-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 at City Hall. They are currently recruiting 12-15 people who identify politically as Red (conservative) and 12-15 who identify as Blue (liberal).

The workshop is designed to help people on either side of the divide understand and value their differences, while co-existing alongside one another, resulting in development of empathy for each other and mutual conversation.

Workshop presenter Heidi Venture, of Heidi Venture Consulting LLC in Hood River, received her master's degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University. She has long been concerned about the lack of civility between political parties. She is taking on the challenge of helping people learn to have civil discussions and relationships across the political divide.

Venture will educate the participants around common values, the problems of dehumanization, and communication skills that don't strive to change people's minds but build bridges to greater understanding of differences.

The communication skills include reflective compassionate listening, listening for values, using "I" messages, and forming questions to deepen understanding. These skills make it possible to discuss political issues—and keep talking.

Venture's main goal is to have workshop participants from either side of the aisle end the evening with a hug and perhaps going out for pizza together.

This is an experiential workshop just for participants with no audience. There will be a light meal provided. It is offered free of charge thanks to financial support from the Ford Family Foundation.

— Click HERE for more information and to learn how you can reserve your free seat for this valuable workshop. —

C4C seeks to help ease political divisiveness

Have you found yourself concerned about the political divide in our country? Are you interested in finding ways to work together to create solutions—like our Founding Fathers did—based on ideals this country was established on?

Do you want to be open to understanding the other side and valuing what they contribute to our democracy?…Or think a solution may be found in relationships and communication skills?

To address these issues, Citizens4Community (C4C) will host the non-partisan “Across the Divide” workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. The 4-8:30 p.m. session will include a catered meal for participants. The event will take place at Sisters City Hall, 520 E. Cascade Ave.  

Consultant Heidi Venture developed the workshop based on principles introduced by Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Venture will help workshop participants engage in an interactive, non-confrontational discussion to explore ideas and practice communication skills aimed at resolving conflicts and bridging differences.

“Many people are hungry for ways to impact the painful divide that has developed between ‘Reds’ and ‘Blues’,” says Venture.  “While most of us are unlikely to have the opportunity or power to make an impact at a national or state level, we can all work on improving the way we relate to each other as individuals in our own communities.”

The “Across the Divide” workshop is designed for equal numbers of self-described conservatives (“Reds”) and liberals (“Blues”) and is limited to the first 30 participants who sign up (15 in each category).

Those interested in participating in this free workshop are invited to register using THIS FORM (click). Deadline for registration is Oct. 24.

Hurray for a Successful Fiesta

Citizens4Community—working with the Sisters Latino community and several key sponsors, supporters and partners—presented Sisters’ first community-wide Fiesta de Independencia on Sept. 16. Held on Mexican Independence Day, the celebration offered Sisters Country a great opportunity to gather and make new friends while enjoying delicious food, festive music and folkloric dancing.

The acclaimed band Mariachi Los Temerosos and dancers from Folklore Luna entertained event-goers in Fir Street Park. Volunteers counted 350-plus people in attendance throughout the afternoon. Admission was free, and door prizes donated by local businesses added to the fun. This community-building event would not have been possible without generous support from local businesses, organizations and individuals.

Sisters Community Quilt Earns Blue Ribbon at Fair

Summer ‘Tour’ continues at ‘Footloose’ event & Library

The Sisters Community Visioning Quilt last week showcased our local values to a broader Central Oregon audience and, in the process, brought home a blue ribbon. The quilt—which features more than 180 comments written by local residents—garnered a first place award at the Deschutes County Fair.

This spring residents expressed their local values and their hopes for Sisters on quilt squares as part of the local visioning effort—Sisters Country Horizons. The squares were collected and assembled into the quilt as a "community through arts" project led by Citizens4Community and the East of the Cascades Quilters. Lead quilters on the project were Diane Tolzman and Gilda Hunt.

The quilt made its debut at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and has been “on tour” this summer. During the fair’s five-day run, the quilt again enjoyed an audience of thousands and earned top honors in the category of quilts created by three or more people.

“I love the fact that people from throughout Central Oregon and beyond have gotten to see what a special place Sisters is by reading the inspiring sentiments on the quilt,” Tolzman said.

Now back home in Sisters, the quilt continues its tour at the Aug. 15 “Footloose at the Fire Hall” dance. The C4C event features free food and group dancing 5:30-8 p.m. at Sisters Fire Hall, 301 S. Elm St.

The quilt also is set to be on display at other community events and then will be exhibited at the Sisters library in late September through October.

A reflection of Sisters’ values, the quilt is meant to be a true community asset, said Amy Burgstahler of C4C. Area businesses or organizations interested in displaying this grass-roots local project quilt can contact C4C.

A website dedicated to the quilt’s story—and featuring the comments on the quilt—has been created HERE.

Other key quilt project supporters include the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, The Stichin’ Post, Kathy Deggendorfer Designs, Ray’s Food Place, Suttle Tea, Sisters Library, the City and the Nugget.