ROXBURY, NJ – With the presidential elections looming in the near future, opinions and emotions are running high, often to the point where common courtesies and respect are disregarded. 

Roxbury Library is co-hosting a series, “Common Grounds,” in conjunction with Unity in Community and Roxbury Coalition for Social Change, with workshops and panels designed to educate the community in order to allow a difference of opinions to be discussed.

By exploring difficult civil conversations to reach a common level of human understanding and compassion on an array of topics, these panels will give community members the tools in order to have these conversations within their neighborhoods.

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 First up on the series is “Skills for Bridging the Political Divide,” a virtual workshop led by the non-partisan group Braver Angels, to be held Sept. 29 from 7p.m. to 9 p.m.  Registration is required by calling the library at (973) 584-2400 or at https://roxburylibrary.libnet.info/event/4504841

 The workshop will highlight skills for having respectful conversations that clarify differences, search for common ground and affirm the importance of the relationship. After a presentation, participants will have an opportunity to practice conversation skills with someone of similar political persuasion.

 “It’s vital that we listen to each other and try to understand our respective points of view,” said Library Director Radwa Ali. “No matter what our individual beliefs, each of us benefits when we communicate with respect and are respected in turn. How can we be a community if we can’t listen and try to understand one another?”

 The workshop’s desired outcomes are: knowledge of what it takes to have constructive, non-polarizing conversations between people who disagree politically; skills in having these conversations; and motivation to have these conversations in one’s social network.

 “I’m grateful that the workshop won’t encourage us to compromise our viewpoints or to shy away from contentious topics,” said Ariel Ravell D'Anton, volunteer with Unity in Community and Succasunna resident.  “The focus is on the ability to have respectful conversations and to listen to each other's point of view.  We’re not expected to come out of it agreeing with each other.”

 The workshop will also highlight areas we all have in common.

“Regardless of whether we are red or blue, we want to raise kind, respectful children and show them how to have conversations without shying away from topics that are uncomfortable," said D’Anton, “Our ability to have civil discourse about hard topics is what will make us stronger as a community.”

Space is limited, and participants need to take a 40-minute introductory, on-line training ahead of the virtual meeting on Sept. 29.  More information will be sent to all who register via www.roxburylibrary.org

Common Grounds continues on Oct. 21 with a panel on women’s leadership, How She Leads, a program on race on Dec. 2, and soon-to-be announced dates for conversations on multi-generations in the workplace and LGBTQIAP.

 Launched in 2016, Braver Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement to unify our divided nation. By bringing red and blue Americans together into a working alliance, Braver Angels is building new ways to talk to one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation.

 Unity in the Community believes that there is more that unites us, than divides us. 

Motivated by the ongoing tensions within our country, a group of Roxbury residents banded together to spearhead initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion within our town, celebrate diversity and meaningfully educate one another. 

Trusting that our differences and diversity of thought make our community stronger, Unity in the Community is happy to partner with the Roxbury Library to co-produce 'Common Grounds' - a series that explores and facilitates civil conversations on the topics of race, political beliefs, gender, creed and more.

Roxbury Coalition for Social Change represents an alumni-founded coalition that is committed to the creation and implementation of diversity initiatives starting in our local community. RCSC believes that a holistic approach to inclusive education begins with the sharing and education of diverse perspectives and uplifting of individual’s realities. Through education and outreach, we believe the creation of a safer Roxbury community is possible for all.

The Roxbury Public Library is our community crossroads for learning and discovery. 

Each year, Roxbury Public Library serves more than 200,000 visitors through our offerings of educational and enriching programs, concerts, our lending books and audiovisual materials, and offering a wide array of digital content that allows our community members to access a vast array of books, audio-books, music, and film on their personal devices via their library card. 

Since March, the Roxbury Public Library has been offering digital services, virtual programs, and now visits to the library and curbside service by appointment at www.roxburylibrary.org