401 Webbs Mills Road, Raymond, Maine 04071 - Tel: 207-655-4742 Fax: 207-655-3024

Make Shift Coffee House Coming to Lakes Region offering food, music and good old-fashioned civic conversation. Thursday, September 27th from 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.

 

We’ve always had people in our lives that disagree with us - and us with them. But in recent years, disagreements have grown and chasms have developed; not only within our communities but among friends and between family members as well. It might be safe to say we’ve all become tattered and worn by a lack of civil discourse and a breakdown in communication where the desire to appreciate our differences has all but escaped us.

 

It is true that our upbringing and environment shapes us and our beliefs. Learning a little about someone’s life can help us to understand one another and accept our differences – and thus potentially changing the course of civility.

Seeking to understand another’s perspective and to learn from each other is the purpose of the Make Shift Coffee House to be held on Thursday, September 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Windham Veteran’s Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive in Windham (behind Hannaford’s and Reny’s shopping center). The theme for the event is “Exploring the Political Divide.”

 

Briefly, a Make Shift Coffee House is an event where people have an opportunity for good old-fashioned civic dialogue while enjoying good food and great music. The occasion provides a chance to ask questions and to hear another’s perspective in a safe and fun environment. It’s not about persuading each other; it’s about coming together with the desire to understand and the willingness to listen and learn.

 

Make Shift Coffee Houses have been popping up in various communities across Maine for the past 18 months and is the concept of Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions, Inc. According to the website, Freshley, a professional facilitator, stated that he was troubled by the growing political divide and the growing lack of civility in political conversations. As a result, he hosted the first Makes Shift Coffee House event in January 2017 in his hometown of Brunswick in an effort to help bridge that political divide. The event was so successful, volunteer members of other Maine communities have joined Freshley to provide a positive opportunity for conversations with others who have different perceptions.

 

To follow in the footsteps of that success, seven local community individuals from various political and philosophical perspectives have been working together for the past five months to give Raymond, Windham and other Lake Region residents the same chance to seek understanding with the hope of bridging the gap and returning to civil discourse.

 

The event will begin with music provided by Gary Wittner of Raymond and food donated by area businesses with an opportunity to meet and greet one another. This will be followed by a group discussion, led by Freshley who will manage a civil exchange of ideas as a neutral third party. Questions that may be considered include:

 

How does the political divide affect your everyday life?

  • What are the political differences that divide us?
  • If you affiliate with a particular political party, why?
  • If you feel strongly about a political issue, why?
  •  

Individuals in attendance will get a chance to voice topics that they deem important for discussion. Topics will be selected and discussed at individual tables, of which attendees will choose to participate in the issue of their choice. Freshley will bring the smaller groups back together for a large group dialogue to capture a larger viewpoint and to end another successful Coffee House discussion.

 

Gary Plummer of Windham who is a retired teacher and former elected official, is one of the volunteers who worked to host this Make Shift Coffee House. Being positive and giving back is important to him. “My nearly four decades serving as a local, county and state elected official was a hobby that provided me a chance to give back to a society that has given me so much,” he stated. “I signed on to the Makeshift Coffee House because I see this as a way to help spread and continue a positive outlook on life.”

 

Mary-Therese Duffy of Raymond who is a founding member of Raymond Arts Alliance and is a practicing clinical counselor as well as an adjunct faculty member at Central Maine Community College has also volunteered her time toward creating this event. She believes civil, face-to-face discussion is important. “Civil dialogue takes the print and visual media, their need for simplification (and to sell their product) right out of the equation,” she said. “I see this [event] as needed more than ever. Our challenges seem more complicated than ever, and we can cocoon in our own likeminded communities and get nowhere forever. We really need to be more interconnected; everybody knows different things that contribute to the whole.”

 

To learn more about the Make Shift Coffeehouse, visit www.makeshiftcoffeehouse.com or call 207-729-5607.

 

About the musician:

Guitarist Gary Wittner has been performing worldwide for over 30 years. He has released several CDs and officially represented the USA overseas four times. A native New Yorker, Mr. Wittner performs Jazz, Latin music, and Middle Eastern music locally, regionally and internationally.  He also teaches guitar at Bowdoin College and is a faculty member of the Univ. of S. Maine School of Music.

 

About the Make Shift organizing committee:

In addition to Plummer and Duffy, the other volunteer members of the organizing committee include: Frank Pecoraro of Raymond, owner of Mulberry Farm. Nancy Foran of Raymond, Pastor of the Raymond Village Community Church. Marie Guerin of West Kennebunk, friend of the Raymond Village Community Church. Lorraine Glowczak of Windham, writer, editor as well as member of the League of Women Voters; and Sheila Bourque of Raymond, President of the Raymond Village Library.

 

RVCC: Small Church, BIG Heart!

Raymond Village Community Church is a United Church of Christ congregation.  It is a diverse faith community embracing tolerance, committed to missions and outreach, singing joyfully, and welcoming all people no matter where they are on their faith journey.

 

For more information about RVCC, contact Rev. Nancy Foran, Pastor, at 655-7749 or revnancy@rvccme.org.

 

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