Workshop to reach 'Across the (Political) Divide'

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

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.

Are You Ready to Get Rhythmic?

Rhythm & Song In the Park is fast approaching. And we're wanting to offer a shout out to our great partners in this event, including Earthtones NW, SPRD, the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, Melvin's by Newport Avenue Market, Ford Family Foundation, and community musicians including Maggie Johnson, on flute; Cameron and Tree, on gongs and singing bowls; Kirk Olsen on African guitar; Shannon Mokuahi Rackowski, with traditional Hawaiian instruments and dance;  Katie Cavanaugh on Native American flute; and Annemarie Crosier, with African drum, song and dance.

Join us at the information table to learn about C4C's other upcoming events this summer and to hear the latest about Sisters' visioning effort—Sisters Country Horizons.

Also, thank you to the staff at the Nugget Newspaper for their wonderful support. To read the Nugget's article on C4C's trio of summertime events, click HERE.

For more details, see our Events page listing.

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Quilt and Quilt Web Page Debut

The 2018 SISTERS COUNTRY QUILT made its debut today (July 14) at the SISTERS OUTDOOR QUILT SHOW. If you weren't able to see the quilt in person, you can visit it at the DESCHUTES COUNTY FAIR or one of  C4C'S UPCOMING COMMUNITY-WIDE EVENTS. Also, check out our webpage dedicated to the quilt, HERE. The page highlights the quilt's story and features the 180-plus sentiments written on the quilt.  

Help Us Design Two New 'Play' Date Events

C4C welcomes your ideas and input as we develop two new local events intended to build community and connection through rhythm, song and dance. Please join us at 5:30 p.m. May 24 for a dynamic planning meeting at Sisters City Hall. Your knowledge and support will help shape the vision for these new summertime events and bring them to life. 

A Little Background

You’re probably aware of Sisters Country “Horizons”—the area’s ongoing visioning effort. C4C is excited to be a partner in that effort. Not surprisingly, Horizons feedback is indicating a strong desire to preserve and promote connections to arts and our natural environment. Likewise, input is showing a strong desire to preserve community connections—to protect our neighborly, “small-town” feel, even as Sisters grows.  

Preserving that sense of fellowship is an ongoing challenge for many communities, especially when tough or divisive issues arise. But, with your help, we can meet that challenge.

THe Vision: Two Summertime 'Play' Dates

As you know, summer is a special time in Sisters: warm evenings; family togetherness; friends and neighbors; good music and food; parks and time to play. The more we engage with one another, the more we understand our common heartbeat—those shared values that bridge our differences.

So, both of these new events seek to unite our community through "play" and active group music-making (rhythm, song and dance). Both gatherings will be accessible, all-inclusive and welcoming to people of all ages and abilities.

The first Sisters Community "Play Date" event will take place July 19th in Village Green Park. Jodi Winnwalker and friends will facilitate a Community Rhythm and Song Circle. Sisters residents of all ages will be invited to participate in this fun event. They can beat a drum, shake a shaker or simply share a picnic on the lawn with friends. The instruments (drums, rattles and more) will be provided. And attendees also are welcome to bring their own instruments. No musical experience is required.

The second "Play Date” event will turn the Fire Hall Community Room into a family dance night, offering music and good times with old and new-found friends. Jane Paxson and friends will lead the group in fun, easy-to-learn community dances designed for all ages and abilities. Again, no experience is required.

The May 24 Planning Meeting—What to Expect:

On May 24th, we'll be looking for your help to plan how we can best reveal the heartbeat of our community through these rhythm, song and dance events. The meeting will be co-facilitated by Robyn Holdman, Jodi Winnwalker and Jane Paxson. The May 24 agenda will include the following: 

• Brief Introductions

• Overview of the C4C mission, plus presentation of the current vision for the July and August community events and how they would contribute to a “bridging the divide” statewide initiative that has been launched by Ford Family Foundation

• An invitation to engage in a rhythm and song demonstration

• A brainstorm session to explore:

1) events and activities that might be similar to what we are proposing.

2) how we can structure both summer events to be most successful.

3) what additional variables we need to consider in our planning.

4) ways you might help to get the word out to our diverse community.

5) ways to measure success of this program.

6) ideas for funding now and in the future.

We are excited to share ideas and hear your input.

If you can, please RSVP by May 22nd (see the form below) to let us know you'll be attending the May 24th planning meeting. If you are unable to join us on the 24th, we still would like to hear from you. Please send us an email sharing your thoughts for how these and other events can help us establish and strengthen relationships as we identify and address the issues that divide us.

Sincerely, The Citizens4Community Team

Program Committee volunteers: Jane Paxson, Jodi Winnwalker, Wendy Birnbaum & Amy Burgstahler