Event to teach residents how to hold difficult conversations

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 15, 2017

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — One of the best ways to solve problems is to hold productive conversations. That’s why Trinity Oaks and Lutheran Services are teaming up to host an Oct. 26 workshop that will train Rowan County residents in ways to hash out difficult topics.

“Because we realize that people are going to deliberate, but we need to learn how to deliberate so those conversations are productive,” Donna Groce, learning for life director at Trinity Oaks, said.

West Virginia Sen. Rev. John Robert Unger III is the keynote speaker and will help facilitate the event.

“We’re real excited to be able to host him,” Groce said.

Unger is the facilitator for the Kettering Institute and the National Issues Forum Institute — two organizations that focus on conversation and democracy as problem-solving tools.

Groce said Trinity Oaks hopes that the all-day workshop will help the community sit down in the same room with one another and “be on the same page and work through issues that are of concern to all of us.”

Lutheran Services and Trinity Oaks decided to host the event after administrations noticed there were “several hot topics” that kept cropping up in Salisbury-Rowan — crime, poverty, opioids.

“There’s so many conversations in our city and people feel frustrated,” Groce said. “…We want to be able to talk.”

The Oct. 26 workshop started out as an invitation-only event, but Groce said organizers decided to open it up to the public. The goal is to get diverse attendance that represents every facet of the Salisbury-Rowan community.

Hopefully, those who attend the workshop will learn not only how to start conversations about difficult topics, but also how to work through issues in such a way that they leave knowing change will happen.

“This is the way it should be done. This is everyone’s goal. To be able to go to a room or to go to a meeting and have it be an efficient meeting that gets something done,” Groce said.

The event, called “Community Engagement: ‘Let’s talk,’ ” is free and will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Wallace Educational Forum, 500 N. Main St., with a continental breakfast. Lunch will be provided. The event runs until 3 p.m.

Space is limited, so those interesting in attending must RSVP to 704-603-9225 or dgroce@trinityoaks.net no later than Monday, Oct. 23.

A free prayer breakfast will be held the next morning, Friday, Oct. 27, at 8 a.m. at Trinity Oaks, 728 Klumac Road.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.