Leading expert on civil discourse to keynote

Seminar focuses on community engagement, stronger economies, healthier places

Posted:  Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - 8:30am
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BRUNSWICK — Strengthening communities through getting residents more civically involved and keeping the conversation civil is the topic of a seminar to be hosted in Brunswick, Maine, by The Community Institute.

Geared for public officials, planners and community organizations, the event includes a keynote presentation from nationally recognized expert Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

"Communities are facing challenges from all sides, from how to be responsive to residents, to how to bring in new well-paying jobs, to attracting a younger work force, to accommodating the needs of an aging community," said Jane Lafleur, event organizer and principal of JB Lafleur Consulting. "The challenge is facing these obstacles and opportunities without offending our neighbors, reaching a stalemate or building walls between each other. This seminar will look at how to involve more people in local decision-making and keep civic engagement civil."

In this day-long session participants will learn about programs, tools and techniques that successfully bring productive engagement and, in turn, strengthen communities and places. The event is Thursday, Sept.14, 2017, at the Brunswick Hotel and Tavern in Brunswick, Maine.

The title of Lukensmeyer's talk is Incivility and Political Dysfunction: how did we get here and what can we do?

In addition to heading up NICD, Lukensmeyer also founded AmericaSpeaks, which developed and facilitated deliberative methods such as the 21st Century Town Hall Meeting and focused on creating opportunities for citizens to impact decisions and encourage public officials to make informed, lasting decisions.

Faculty members for the seminar include Sara Lightner, senior associate, Orton Family Foundation; Caitlyn Davison, associate, Orton Family Foundation; Nancy Smith, Executive Director, GrowSmart Maine; Anne Ball, program director, Maine Downtown Center; Tara Hill, executive director, Maine Cancer Foundation; Kate Howe, owner, Better Yet Studio and others.

The September 14 seminar is the eighth program The Community Institute has held. Each one focuses on an issue of importance to communities, beginning at the policy level and ending with practical tools and techniques. Each session also includes field work; this session will include an afternoon of learning stations to experience engagement tools and see actual results of engagement processes.

The Community Institute is designed to be of special interest to town managers and planners, economic development boards and directors, local, regional and state leaders, community organizations, developers, realtors, chambers of commerce and anyone with an interest in building healthy, strong communities and economies with a special focus on community engagement.

This program is sponsored by the Orton Family Foundation, Maine Development Foundation, Lift360 and others. Additional sponsorships and exhibit booths are available.

Registration is $100, with an early bird rate of $85 before September 1. Register on-line at https://thecommunityinstitute.eventbrite.com.

Event Date: 
Thu, 09/14/2017 - 8:30am to 4:00pm
Event Location: 
The Brunswick Hotel & Tavern, 4 Noble Street Brunswick, ME 04011
Contact Name: 
Jane Lafleur
Contact Phone: 
(207) 691-0971