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April 06, 2010 3:21 am

Work session a positive example of constructive dialogue

Written by Tribune Staff

Last week a diverse cross-section of the community gathered at The Commons.

The Powell City Council and the Powell Coalition Against Substance Abuse (PCASA), hosted their second community consensus-building workshop with the goal of developing guidelines to help the city council, and others, make decisions regarding public policy as it relates to alcohol use.

Organizers gathered representatives from the public schools, Northwest College, faith-based groups, media outlets, bar owners, parents, policemen, health care workers and others. The diversity of the group ensured that many perspectives were brought to the table.

While the coalition has a clear mission of reducing underage alcohol use, cutting down on over-use of alcohol by people over the age of 21 and preventing drunk driving, the goal for participants was to come to consensus regarding key areas of public policy.

It was a fascinating example of what happens when people with very different frames of reference come together to engage in civil dialogue. At the end of the session, there was better than 75 percent consensus for the three guidelines that were developed.

Facilitator Rhonda Shipp and others from West Park Hospital's Prevention and Wellness Office did an admirable job of crafting a process that set a clear course of action.

But more than that, participants across the board showed respect for others and an absolute willingness to listen to other points of view.
Shipp put it best when she said, “I am awestruck by what groups of people can do together. It gives me hope for the future when (people can come together), have a civil conversation, reach consensus and move forward.”