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Bipartisanship: Is it still possible?

By Diana Laughlin, Program Services Supervisor, Estes Valley Library

We sometimes find ourselves looking at the world, wondering, “Is it really possible for our species to work together? Can we agree upon real solutions to address problems? Is there any hope of finding common ground?”

We explored these big questions last October as part of One Book One Valley and Conflict Resolution Month. Through book discussions and programs, you gave us some encouraging feedback: you were left with hope—and you wanted these conversations to continue.

Two people with very unique insights into the questions above will be our special guests next Thursday, January 31, at 6 p.m. Both are the subjects of a documentary titled, “The Last Bill: a Senator’s Story”.

During their careers in the Colorado legislature, State Senators Linda Newell and Kevin Lundberg were on opposite sides of the political aisle. They frequently found themselves championing very differing priorities.

And yet, despite their disagreements, these leaders became unlikely collaborators. They worked together to bring bills through the legislature, listening to one another’s point of view, while drawing upon two powerful human skills: humor and fortitude.

Following her eight-year tenure in the legislature, Senator Newell had achieved a record of passing bills with 98% bipartisan support. She offers the hopeful message that bipartisanship and positive collaboration among opponents is still within our reach.

The January 31 program will begin with a showing of the film, “The Last Bill” on the big screen in the Hondius Room. Then both Senators Lundberg and Newell will share their insights into the documentary and their experiences working across the aisle, followed by some time for Q&A. The 90-minute program is a unique opportunity to have both these experienced leaders together in Estes Park.

Don’t worry if missed last October’s programs. Now is a great time to join in the dialogue. You can reserve your spot on January 31 by registering here.

Then on Wednesday, February 6, we welcome back Dr. Martín Carcasson, Director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University, to build upon his presentation from last fall. Join us at 6 p.m. that evening for “Tackling Wicked Problems, Part Two: Deliberative Democracy”.

For well over a decade, Dr. Carcasson has been carefully studying how citizens interact with one another. His research and related practices show that there are tangible ways to move beyond false polarization, toward collaborative problem-solving in the public sphere.

“A revolution is beginning to occur in public engagement,” he says. Amid all the apparent challenges, there is “a growing realization that we can do much better.”

Click here to register for February 6. And click “Current Affairs” to read Dr. Carcasson’s article on Deliberative Engagement, or to place a hold on the DVD copy of “The Last Bill”.

Thank you to Estes Park Condos for being a sponsor for this season’s Current Affairs programs. We look forward to seeing you at these programs, as we renew a positive pathway for citizens working together.