“If you want to change your stereotypes, seek first-hand experience. Do not believe everything you are told. Find out for yourself. Talk.” ― Mark Gerzon, American Citizen, Global Citizen: How Expanding Our Identities Makes Us Safer, Stronger, Wiser – And Builds a Better World

Please consider attending an important upcoming Scarborough Public Library program featuring an interview with Mark Gerzon, author, leadership consultant, and veteran convener of cross-party conversations. Facilitated discussions in small groups will follow the interview thanks to the Library’s partnership with Scarborough Community Connections, a group of volunteers that formed in 2018 to bring people together for constructive conversations on challenging issues impacting Scarborough.

The program, “A Path Forward from Divisiveness” takes place Tuesday, Dec. 7. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. will be a virtual interview with Mark Gerzon and from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. an in-person and virtual facilitated group discussion will take place.

Our Library has a long history of fostering civil discourse. That commitment began in the very early 1990s when we used study circles as a tool for bringing diverse groups of people together around an issue of common concern. Our involvement with The Roundtable Center, the only organization of its type in the country, promoted many opportunities for deliberative, substantive exploration of complex social issues by ordinary citizens. Participating in study circles created community through dialogue and aided in the process of democratic and civic renewal.

Our current civil discourse group is the Let’s Talk America Forum, a nationally recognized program that encourages meaningful, civil conversation among local citizens on current local, state, national and world topics. Through small, moderated groups, participants are encouraged to share opposing views on pre-selected topics in hopes of bridging differences and building understanding. This group is welcoming new participants at its regular monthly meeting at the Library at 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. Meetings are hybrid, with many attending in person while others participate virtually.

As one of the oldest libraries in the state of Maine, the Scarborough Public Library has always taken our role very seriously. According to the American Library Association, libraries are America’s most democratic institutions; we make democracy work by providing access to information so that citizens can make the decisions necessary to govern themselves. It is natural that we play a role in strengthening democracy by nurturing civic engagement. Civic mindfulness is cyclical. In the last century, it surged following WWII and again in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, it has cycled back again.

Please join us Dec. 7 for a very special civil discourse program and an opportunity to engage with your neighbors and other Scarborough citizens during these turbulent times in our country. As with all our programs, this program is free, accessible, and open to the public. The interview will be streamed; watch it at the Library (seating is limited) or from home via Zoom. Group discussions will follow the talk. For more information and to register visit the Library’s website: scarboroughlibrary.org/events/authors-library/path-forward.

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