How was our first Make Shift Coffee House? (01/28/2017)

Were you at the Make Shift Coffee House at the Brunswick Library on Saturday, January 14, 2017?

Please share your thoughts below.

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9 thoughts on “How was our first Make Shift Coffee House? (01/28/2017)”

  1. I was glad to have been able to attend the Makeshift Coffee House, and appreciate your efforts at having put it all together. I’d like to see this continue but do have a few comments/suggestions:

    1. The fact that there was not equal representation between liberals/conservatives, Republicans/Democrats was not conducive to a good exchange. Perhaps a change of venue to a less “democrat” infused community like Brunswick might be an idea.

    2. A “social hour” might be best limited to the end of the discussion (not to say people couldn’t come early, but there was too much time before the actual discussion began and some of us got pretty restless).

    3. There was some kind of tacit understanding to be politically correct, to not express some of our real frustration and anger at what’s continuing to go on in Washington, Trump and his administration being the true “elephant” in the room. A real challenging discussion might provoke anger, but until this is faced head on, no true understanding of each other’s side is possible.

    4. A different format might be more effective, based on how the presidential debates were structured.
    Have 3 conservatives and 3 liberals be willing to take stage front. Questions for them could be written ahead of time and submitted. These questions would be asked by the moderator and there would be 2 to 3 minutes for response by the other side, followed by comments (also limited in time) from the audience. The “coffee hour” at the end might generate more individual discussions.

    Just some ideas…………….
    Again, I think coming together to focus on all this is the only grassroots way to effect any kind of change.
    Thanks again.

  2. Yeah, so, I also wish that we got deeper into the issues. I realize that I shied from asking deeper, more probing questions because I was afraid of offending someone and scaring them off. I tend to error on that side of things when I facilitate; tend to be very careful not to put anyone “on the spot.”

    I know. I know. The liberals were dying to hear from conservatives: “How could you possibly vote for Trump?” We heard some answers to that but in hindsight I realize that did not push the Republicans hard on that question because there were so few of them. I didn’t want them to feel ganged up on. I didn’t want to accentuate the imbalance.

    It was a fair first effort. And I and SO grateful to our Republican friends Jason, Nina, Aaron and others for answering my call and showing up. Yet we can do better. I learned several lessons. And I’m really looking forward to the next one.

    Next time maybe we’ll do something to mix up the informal conversations before and after the group talk. Maybe we will ask people to lead with explaining their views rather than leading with questions. Maybe we will focus on a more specific topic.

    Your thoughts about the format?

    One thing’s for sure. We definitely want to have a better balance of conservatives and liberals. If you have ideas on where to have the next one to help make that happen, please write to me!

    And thanks for coming. It was a great turnout and a very respectful first effort.

  3. This was a mighty effort and I hope that another event is scheduled that would be very similar but maybe with a few tweaks. I think you have folks from Brunswick willing to travel so maybe take it on the road ? Lewiston ? Bangor. Being in a town that is more diverse may just solve the problems I felt of there being an imbalance in the crowd and not having the opportunity to chat with folks with differing opinions. I actually would benefit from a slightly smaller group. Thank you Craig et al.

  4. I learned much from this evening and am so glad that folks had an opportunity to sit in the same room, respectfully listening to people with differing opinions. Friendships and families have become strained and even broken over politics from this past season in a way that I haven’t seen in my lifetime. Craig modeled a way for passionate people to have a conversation for the purpose of understanding rather than for the purpose of persuading. The voices were rational and educated, intelligent and thoughtful- not reduced to oversimplified caricatures. Opportunities for small group discussions came before and after the whole group discussion. Thank you to everyone’s generous participation…especially those courageous ones who were in the political minority.

  5. It was a great start to something I hope can continue – maybe occasionally, maybe monthly for a few times?
    I’ve heard criticism that it was too polite! And not sufficiently about resisting trump!
    For me it was an excellent format and great beginning. I’d like to get some practice and find ways to get to root causes rather than disagreement about symptoms. But that would maybe be a different format and a different group. Not sure.
    We do need to get more conservatives willing to come out.
    Someone said that Brunswick is too liberal and that Lewiston might be a good venue – but how many would travel?
    Something that I’m grateful for is the new activism that trump has generated among Hillary supporters….
    We are still a BIG distance from talking about third parties and what stands in the way of their participation.
    Thanks, Craig!!

  6. I very much enjoyed this event. I particularly appreciated the eloquence and civility with which differing opinions were expressed throughout the night. Additionally, I found Craig’s calm yet insightful moderating strategy refreshing in this turbulent political climate. I do wish that there had been conservative contributors who were not employed by the Maine GOP, and that there had been more of an effort to integrate liberals and conservatives during the “mingling” phase of the event. Overall, however, I found this first Make Shift Coffee House to be incredibly eyeopening. I hope to attend another one in the future!

  7. The number of attenders and the heartfelt words shared at this first makeshift coffee house was encouraging. I appreciated hearing different views and getting a better sense of the reasons behind voting choices. But this felt like a beginning. Either the beginning of small group, informal conversations or more coffehouses around the state or both. Hopefully at least the individual conversations.

  8. Turnout was better than I expected/feared, so that was good. I agree that there was too much discussion of specific policies, where we already know the views of “our side” and “the other side.” I would have liked to have heard more about the basic values underlying those views. Liberals are said to be strongly concerned about caring for others (beyond the family) and ensuring equal justice for all. Conservatives are said to be more concerned with respect for authority and tradition. Is this true? And if it is, is there any way in which we can craft solutions to problems which address all of these values? As Craig knows, I recommend the work of Jonathan Haidt in this area (although I also have my disagreements with him.)

    If you do this again (and I hope you do), I would recommend smaller groups and a focus on one or more of these basic values. Thanks for all the work you put into this.

  9. I was disappointed. I don’t believe this was a helpful evening although the band was great and the turn out was as well.
    I really wanted to hear, not about republicans and democrats, I know the difference and I am okay with differences. The problem, I believe with people and what they seek to understand, is how this particular President elect could have been elected. What were the factors in choosing this president? What were the policies that were so appealing? What made you vote for him, if you did, and what were your misgivings and hopes.
    I thought and had hoped this was a discussion about the current situation not pro-choice and taxes. I think we all get that.

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