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Sender: Ted Celeste
Subject: Introduction
Date: Wed, Apr 9, 2014
Msg: 100908

Greetings: I have been following the introductions to this group and the great conversation, and decided I better let folks know about the efforts I have undertaken. I am a former State Representative from Ohio, who tried to undertake bi-partisan efforts as a legislator and felt the ever widening and deepening reach of caucus politics in every action we were undertaking. As I pondered my future after facing a new district with redrawn maps, I started to circulate an idea of creating a series of workshops aimed at bringing civil discourse to the legislative arena. A number of my contacts encouraged me to consider trying to link up with an entity that was already engaged in this activity, rather than trying to start a new non-profit in a time of shrinking budgets and difficult fundraising. I was able to reach out to the National Institute for Civil Discourse and propose that they add a program, which we now call Next Generation, to their offerings. With most of their initial efforts aimed at the national level in Congress, we jointly determined that aiming at state legislatures where over 50% of U.S. Representatives and Senators get their start, could provide a fruitful scenario. Next Generation ( has created an introductory workshop called "Building Trust through Civil Discourse" that has been presented in 5 states to date, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Washington and Maine, and is lined up in another dozen states. The workshop is co-facilitated by Democrat and Republican legislators and during the half-day session participants are guided through exercises to learn more about each other, and how they might create a more civil atmosphere in their legislative body. In several of the states, working groups have continued to explore ways to put in place an action agenda for follow up. And a number of the legislators have indicated a desire to join the team as facilitators for other states. With over 100 legislators having gone through the inititial exercise, a good base of support is developing to carry out our mission. We are interested in developing a sustainable effort in each of the states where we conduct a workshop. The part of the workshop that has had the most profound impact is called "My political journey" and is focused on getting participants to identify the one event in their lives that had the biggest impact on who the legislator is today politically, and then share with the others. Perhaps more than anything else, this exercise allows legislators to see each other as individuals and not Republicans or Democrats. With the beginning of this transpartisan link, I wanted to let the community know that there are a number of legislators around the country who get it. And I look forward to learning more about what folks have been doing and ideas that might be incorporated into our efforts. I look forward to the ongoing dialogue. I am passionate about the concept.

Regards, Ted Celeste, Director, Next Generation a Project of The National Institute for Civil Discourse. 614-679-7722


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