Workshops promote civil discussion

BAR HARBOR — “George W. Bush said that civility is not a tactic or a sentiment,” said Nina St. Germain, who serves as Engagement Coordinator for the town. “It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos.

“I love the action implied in this statement,” she continued. “Choosing community over chaos requires making the same choice to participate, over and over again, as a practice. It’s a practice of choosing community.”

That practice is why St. Germain is excited about a series of workshops this fall designed to promote civil discussion around “Balancing Quality of Life and Tourism.” And she is not alone.

“From what I’ve been hearing, mostly people are very excited to have this conversation,” St. Germain said. With all the discussions the town has had over cruise ships, parking and the ferry terminal, St. Germain feels the larger issue of “balancing quality of life and tourism” gets to the heart of them all.

The first session of “Balancing Quality of Life and Tourism” will be at the Bar Harbor Club on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. The second in the series will at the Jackson Laboratory on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.

The workshops are a collaboration with National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD), a non-partisan organization whose mission is to revive civility in government and communities, according to their website.

St. Germain said NICD contacted the town, because they “recognized that we had been doing this work,” and identified Bar Harbor as a community that would benefit from the workshops.

NICD staff will be joined by a local facilitator, Bar Harbor resident Ron Beard. Beard said the upcoming workshops will start “important conversations for Bar Harbor.”

“In order to seek a shared vision for the future of our community, we must first listen to one another,” he said. “As we grapple with complex problems and opportunities, we’ll do better if we first share the things that matter to us, looking for our hopes and fears, looking for common ground.”

St. Germain said the goal of each workshop is “to help establish some priorities about what we find most valuable.” With NCID involved, she also expects it to be “a boot camp about how to have a public discussion.”

St. Germain said light refreshments will be served at the two workshops. She thanked Jackson Laboratory and Ocean Properties for hosting the events on behalf of the community.

Participants are encouraged to register in advance by emailing [email protected] or visiting the Google sign-up sheet on the town’s website.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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