Archived Story

‘Building Common Ground’ events Culminate Nov. 8 [UPDATED]

Published 10:01am Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Updated 12:04pm Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We teach our children how to get along with others, have manners and respect. Those lessons don’t come up as often for adults.

There have been ongoing discussions in Elbow Lake over the past year to share ideas about what community, civility and compassion means to different people. The final session of the series titled “Building Common Ground,” will be Thursday, and the public is invited for a light meal and conversation.

“These discussions help people create empathy for other people’s experiences,” said Gail Hedstrom, Librarian at the Thorson Memorial Library. “We focused some of the discussions on immigration, since it seems whoever is in the latest wave of immigrants is often mistreated or misunderstood.”

Participants were also encouraged to read and discuss books such as “Choosing Civility” and Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.” The library made numerous copies of each title available in print, audio books and electronic books. Another reference for the group has been the website, which shares stories of compassion around the world and invites people to sign an on-line charter for compassion. So far, 91,287 have signed the charter.

According to the materials, the principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Symbols of compassion include alleviating the suffering of our fellow creatures- including refraining from inflicting pain- removing ourselves from the center of our world and putting others there, and treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

“What astounded me was the variety of people that have attended,” said John Kreft, a teacher from Elbow Lake. “Most people want to feel connected. It was a very thoughtful group discussion.”

Kari Hagstrom had a similar sentiment.

“We are all the same, we all want to fit in,” said Hagstrom. “It is good to remind people to treat each other with decency and respect.”

The final discussion under this series will take place Thursday at the Elbow Lake Community Center. A light meal will be served from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., followed by a community conversation from 6:45 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, though participants are asked to call in advance to 218-685-6850, to reserve a spot for the meal.

The “Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion” series has been made possible through a grant from the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute, with additional support from the Thorson Memorial Library, The Friends of the Library, The Elbow Lake Arts Advisory Council, Prairie Wind Players and the Grant County Herald.

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