We’ve heard pleas from Wellesley elected officials in recent years for more civil discourse on matters where individuals disagree on political, social, or other issues, and now the town is taking steps to further encourage this.
During Monday’s Select Board meeting, Wellesley Assistant Executive Director Amy Frigulietti shared an update on the town’s civil discourse initiative.
The town has received grants for training of 10 municipal employees and 10 community members in “reflective structured dialogue” on March 11 and 12. Essential Partners, the organization doing the training, describes this type of dialogue as being “designed to help communities and organizations disrupt those patterns to hold open, honest, constructive conversations about potentially divisive topics.which is designed to get people with a difference of opinion to listen to one another and better understand one another.”
Frigulietti says having this team trained will enable Wellesley to respond when controversial issues arise in town.
“We’ll be able to call on these individuals to help us facilitate a dialogue around various issues,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great tool we’re going to have in town.”
A webinar called “Community Conversations: How Citizens Are Rebuilding the Public Square” will be held on March 23 featuring representatives from Gloucester, Groton, and Watertown, all communities that have already done such civil discourse work. Register for Zoom webinar.
The 20 facilitators being trained in Wellesley will also act through a dialogue about coping with COVID during a public event on April 6 from 7-9pm (registration will open after March 23).
Outgoing Select Board Chair Marjorie Freiman said initiatives like this will “hopefully make the town more welcoming and more open to real conversation and getting to know people and resolve differences before they get out of hand.”