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William C. Friday Dialogues for Civic Leadership Held in Fayetteville

Monday, September 30, 2019   (0 Comments)
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Wildacres Leadership Initiative (WLI) recently responded to the request of a North Carolina community seeking ways to engage a truly diverse cross-section of community members in creating substantive, real discussions across difference centered around the theme of health.

When he heard a colleague seeking ways to get people to learn how to better communicate empathetically with one another, William C. Friday Fellowship graduate Lenny Salzberg of Cumberland County advised Karen Goble, Director of Continuing Medical Education at the Southern Regional AHEC, to reach out to WLI.  WLI readily agreed to a partnership to be held in a local community setting.  The five-part series of small group dialogues in Fayetteville at the region’s AHEC (Area Health Education Center) began monthly in August 2019.

Local Friday Fellowship graduates also joined the group.  Friday Fellows brought their perspectives and deliberative dialogue practices assisting this effort to address a community matter.

Each month the group comes together for a quick dinner.   Then in a circle, the group revisits brief individual introductions and group agreements for discourse.  These group agreements came about as consensus items from the group’s first gathering.   Still meeting in a circle, the group is given the opportunity to respond to an interim assignment or reflection provided by a facilitation team.

The central theme of the initial dialogue was individual health.  The central theme of the second dialogue was community health.   Succeeding dialogues will continue to build on and reexamine these themes.

While each dialogue officially lasts only two hours, group members generally stay later for more discussion.  Additionally, an extensive bibliography with contextual articles and links is available for more reading and reflection around each dialogue.

Repeated respectful interaction is a useful way to engage across difference and steadily build trust and relationship.  WLI is deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with and support North Carolinians who saw this possibility to partner and positively engage each other in dialogue.

Wildacres Leadership Initiative is connected with Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC.