Bare Bones Biology 145 – Community Education

This is the third brief discussion edited out from my conversation with Stepháne last year in Silver City.  I was lucky to meet Stepháne.  I have been saying we should discuss important issues together, but he has been doing it and studying it.  He knows how.

But before we begin I want to be clear that, in this little excerpt, Stepháne and I were not quite on track, talking about the same thing.  He was talking about the abortion controversy.  I was talking about Planned Parenthood, which the State of Texas found out last year is not an “abortion clinic,” but is primarily our most efficient low cost health care provider for women http://www.austinchronicle.com/blogs/news/2012-11-30/texas-womens-health-care-costs-more-does-less/.

If that sounds like a controversial or confrontational statement, it’s not meant to be. It’s just that statistic changes the argument a bit,  but for this blog, I defer to Stepháne’s discussion of the abortion issue, and I was able to find information about the dialog that he describes, which was called Public Conversations, and clearly states both sides of that issue, each from the perspective of well-informed and concerned leadership http://pubpages.unh.edu/~jds/BostonGlobe.htm.

Picture-Globe-LargerApparently based on the work of this group is an ongoing project of the same name that provides guidelines for developing a discussion group about any important topic http://www.publicconversations.org/video-series/virtualworkshop/sec1, with an interesting new project arising out of it.  More than one actually, but this one caught my eye http://thefamilydinnerproject.org/about-us/. Below is my discussion with Stepháne:

Lynn said:  “Well, I would love to put you on the Planned Parenthood issue.  I did a study on that, and I did not see any way that they could possibly talk to each other.”

Stepháne:  “Back in the 90’s some doctors were being shot and killed.  And that caused people to feel like something’s turned terribly wrong in our debate, and now it’s become horribly violent.  These people (see above) sat down and said, something’s really disturbing here.  Let’s see if we can talk.  And they formed kind of a process where they brought people on seemingly polar opposites, and they were motivated by this crisis, that they cannot afford to have this violence.   People came together and they formed some sort of format for dialogue between people at polar opposites of this debate about abortion.  And it really caused new consideration to open up; new thought, to where it wasn’t so easy to see sides.

Lynn:  They’re not violent in Bryan.  It’s not a violent movement, but they don’t talk to each other, either.  Planned Parenthood in Bryan is a building with a fence around it, and a gate to go through.  The volunteers sit up here and escort clients in and out, and the sidewalk is here, and the protestors are on the sidewalk, and the most violent thing they are likely to do is run up to the clients, if they can, and yell at them – not yelling at them, but yelling information at them.  So I did a small study.  I didn’t do anything inside, but I got permission to talk to the volunteers and the protestors and ask their opinions.  And I wrote it all down.  They did not spout obscenities about each other.  That’s not what I asked them, for one thing.  I asked why are you doing this.  And all of the people on the volunteer group were all doing it for community reasons – for the welfare of the community.  And all the protestors were doing it for individual reasons – to save individual life.

Stepháne:  Before I got into the field of mediation over this past decade, I had been involved in nonviolent peaceful protest, organizing as an activist, and participating.  And there are some interesting things there also.  It’s different from a dialogue, but there are also aspects of communicating so that you are heard.  It appears to me that if someone is shouting at somebody going into a clinic.

Lynn:  You roll up the window, you don’t listen.

Stepháne:  If I focus and think for a moment, I want those people to hear my point of view.  Then you begin to think, well maybe shouting isn’t a very good way for me to be heard.  How else can I be heard?  People do nonviolent actions to where they are heard in a new way.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at:

Questions for Discussion: You know better than I what questions we need to discuss together. The question is who how to do it and who has the courage.

Recommended References
http://www.restorativejustice.org/
http://www.luchinimediationservices.com/restorative-justice1.html
Plus Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook downloadable under Chapters on the right side of this blog home page.

Bare Bones Biology 143 – Education

Last week I introduced Stepháne Luchini, whose expertise is in communication techniques as they relate to community and justice. This week and next, I want to air a bit more from his commentary. Unfortunately I had to edit out some car noise, but I think the message is his, and I want to present his message because so many people ask me “what can we do?” or sometimes they tell me there is nothing we can do. My answer, for about the past three years, has been that we must discuss the issues together.

TarSandsHoustonASC_1752sIn fact, we now have factual data available to discuss, relative to our basic communal issues, and of course the purpose of discussion is to bring our opinions to the facts and to each other. If we only discuss with people who agree, that’s almost the same as not discussing, and it generally ends in a big session of “blame-placing” or “aint-it-awful,” or both, which can relieve our own sense of responsibility but does not result in improving the mental health of our communities. That’s one reason I was so interested in Stepháne’s comments about debate, dialog and community. Here’s Stepháne:

“You were interested in exploring the difference between debate and dialog. I think dialog is a conversation between two or more people. It’s one that facilitates people taking into consderation others. Debate’s a contest to see who can win over the other. I don’t think that really helps to facilitate consideration. I think it develops division, competition.”

“Dialog helps take into consideration all beings. I think to consider all beings, we have to consider who is going to be part of the dialog. I think dialog suggests that we have to think of who else will be part of the dialog and invite those others into the dialog. A specific example is if we say at a public meeting about what’s going to happen with water issues in the town of Silver City, who should be at that meeting? Who should we invite? Maybe it’s not that we should decide in a quiet back room of the corporation, Ok who do we want to talk with about water issues because we have a bias toward wanting to make some money. Or as it was in Bolivia, where people needed a new water system, and a US based corporation comes along and says we’ll put in a nice new water system. The people were really happy until they started to get these horrendous bills to charge them for water that was always free, and they revolted. That didn’t work out for that company apparently, because nobody paid.

”We have a system that perpetuates harm and hurts, I believe, with our criminal justice system right now, and I think a lot of people go into it with a feeling that they really want to fulfill the needs of justice. They feel tired, or discouraged, or know that it’s actually causing more harm, and are really seeking what better we can do. People who are district attorneys, people who are judges. So I think there’s room. I think people in criminal justice, professionals, many or most of them, if they saw a new way that could promote healing and true accountability, they would embrace it. My experience with restorative justice suggests that people in our community, if given an opportunity, would embrace an alternative way. I think people can take up dialog. I think we can take up dialog in our politics than our debate. I think we can do more with our efforts to promote community. I think people are ready for it.”

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will playnext week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas.
Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at:

Recommended References:
http://www.restorativejustice.org/
http://www.luchinimediationservices.com/restorative-justice1.html

Questions for discussion.
(1) What is the most important need in my community and who should be involved in a dialog about that issue.
(2) How does this need differ from the needs of the ecosystem? How do you know what the ecosystem needs? Which is more important and why?
For a free copy of the Bare Bones Biology Ecology energy handbook, go to the right side of my blog https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com, under chapters. Be sure to let me know if it doesn’t work, or if you find something in the book with which you disagree.