A political conversation got started n Nextdoor.com among my neighbors. It got as ugly as you would expect it to and resulted in people begging that politics stay off that platform because “we are neighbors.” I saw an opportunity there. I created a post asking if anyone would be interested in meeting in-person to have civil and neighborly conversations about the political issues that affect our lives so that we can understand our neighbor’s perspective. About 30 people expressed interest. I am calling it North Fulton (our broader neighborhood) C.A.N. (civil and neighborly). I have set some strict rules which I will share below. We are having our first talk about healthcare tonight.

This Facebook Group is created for the purpose of organizing in-person meetings among North Fulton residents for Civil and Neighborly(C.A.N.) conversations about the politics and policies that affect our lives. Meetings may be held monthly or more frequently. Here are the house rules.

1. A topic will be set for each meeting. It is permissible to post well-researched and sourced articles about the topic before and after the meeting only if you will be attending the meeting in person. The goal of this group is to take the conversations offline and to be neighborly. Therefore, articles should just be mostly suggested reading material. If comments get out of hand I will remove the post.

2. We should avoid labels as much as possible such as Democrats think this and Republicans do that. We can talk about party platforms but not assume that a neighbor’s ideas and opinions can be defined or assumed solely by the political party or religion they align with.

3. Participants goals should NOT be to try to influence or change their neighbor’s mind. The goal is to listen to understand and to speak to be understood. If we walk away from each meeting understanding the perspective of someone who does not share our ideas and opinions, that is a win!

4. At the meeting, a person is not allowed to dominate the conversation. If you need to make a point that is going to take some time to explain, ask for 5 min. You will have 5 minutes to make your point with no interruptions. No one should speak for more than 5 minutes at a time.

5. The focus will be on issues and policy — not on character traits of a politician. We may bring up how a politician spoke about or voted on an issue or policy, but not on anything unrelated to the issue or policy.

If a person is in violation of these rules either within this group or in an in-person meeting they will be made aware of the offense first and removed from the group for the second violation.

An award-winning marketing consultant, aspiring writer, and accidental business coach. www.sherryheyl.com

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