WASHBURN—Differing opinions on issues such as religion, politics and city planning are normal. How we handle these conflicts matters to the health of our communities as well as to us as individuals.

More than 15 years ago, Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project helped the citizens of Duluth and Superior learn to communicate in a more respectful way, allowing the Twin Ports to overcome obstacles and make progress.

Speaker Rob Karwath became involved in the program as a consultant to the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. He will share the story and the benefits of the program in a speech and workshop starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 17 in the Washburn Cultural Center, 1 E. Bayfield St., Washburn.

Karwath learned about Speak Your Peace when the Community Foundation introduced it in the early 2000s. At the time, he was executive editor of the Duluth News Tribune. He and others had doubts about the program, based largely on its simplicity. Speak Your Peace urges individuals to commit to the nine tools of civility: pay attention, listen, be inclusive, don’t gossip, show respect, be agreeable, apologize, give constructive criticism and take

responsibility.

“Many of us initially didn’t think something so simple could have much of an impact,” Karwath said. “But it worked, and I’ve been fortunate to bring the message of Speak Your Peace to communities across the country. When people practice these nine tools, conversations become positive—even when participants disagree—and communities make progress.”

Officials of local government agencies, nonprofit boards, church councils and anyone interested in improving local dialogue and civic engagement are encouraged to attend. Also, anyone who wants to learn how to talk with someone who has differing opinions will leave equipped with new communication tools.

The event is co-sponsored by PFLAG Washburn and the League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties. The League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties (LWV/ABC) is a nonpartisan political organization whose main objective is to promote political responsibility through the informed and active participation of all citizens in government at all levels, especially locally. (http://www.lwvabcwi.org/,

www.facebook.com/ABCLWV) PFLAG works toward full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. PFLAG works to create a society in which all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons may enjoy, in every aspect of their lives, full civil and legal equality and may participate fully in all the rights, privileges and obligations of full U.S. citizenship.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

PFLAG Washburn Chapter Leader Nancy Hanson, nancyhanson1958@yahoo.com or 715-209-1100 PFLAG Communications Director Matt Mallum, mattmallum@gmail.com

Rob Karwath, rob@northcoastcommunications.com, 218-343-9418

To learn more about Speak Your Peace, please go to dsaspeakyourpeace.org