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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 11 months ago

Ormond Beach residents hoping to unite community through discourse

The group encourages people of all viewpoints to join the moderated discussions.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Three Ormond Beach residents are hoping to bring the community together by kickstarting a civil discourse group.

Linda Williams, Bill Denny and Ann Long are inviting residents of all viewpoints to engage in moderated discussion of local issues and topics. Williams has based the model of the meetings in mind with the University of Arizona's National Institute for Civil Discourse's Initiative to Revive Civility, a national grassroots effort meant to highlight the need to change the tone of current politics and makes suggestions for individual residents in how to do that using small group dialogues and engagement with elected officials. 

The group will employ five practices for their discussions: Humility, solidarity with conversation partners, leading with what you stand for, and avoiding binary thinking and dismissive words and phrases. 

“I think the problem is we have just handed over our discourse — our debates — to polarization, to extremes, and then nobody wins," Williams said.

Denny, who attends virtually every meeting of the City Commission and the various city advisory boards, stressed the importance of having a "rounded group" with all viewpoints. He and Williams met during a Walk with the City Manager event, where they talked about a local issue going on at the time.  

"Next thing I knew she was up there talking to the City Commission, and I respected her just to do that," Denny said.

Long, a retired attorney, also cited her respect for Williams as her reason for joining the effort. She said she is also concerned about the country.

"I'm here tonight trying to figure out a way if there's some little way in which I can make my country a better place and keep it from going, from devolving, into a bad place," Long said. "An undemocratic place. A corrupt place."

Williams believes that, by getting people of all sides together, solutions for bettering the community could be reached. With a diverse group of people, she is hopeful they can come up with creative ideas to do just that.

"Even though that is a tall order, that is what we are going for," William said.

The next civil discourse meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, at the Ormond Beach Library. For more information, contact Williams at [email protected]

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