Editor’s note: In 2011, for the fourth time in a row (and running), the Library Journal Index of Public Library Services, a public library rating system, designated Telluride’s Library a five-star institution. With an overall score of 2,471 based on patron use per capita in four service categories, – library visits, circulation, program attendance, and public Internet use – the Wilkinson Public Library ranked fifth in the nation among public libraries with annual budgets of $1 – 5 million. Hence the name of library director Barb Brattin’s columns, which launches today. Barb will be blogging about whatever is top of mind in the world of ideas and books. This week, her hair is on fire about civility and an upcoming workshop.

I have learned to embrace the mystical elements that sense what this library and this community need. And I accept the better angels that deliver those messages at the most unexpected, but fortuitous times.

Susan Rice, leader of the Naturita Library, winner of the Best Small Library in America award, dropped in one afternoon and introduced me to Carl Jeffrey Goebel.

We at the Wilkinson Public Library had just finished a strategic plan that centered around building common ground by focusing on community, civility, and compassion. We’d applied for and received a grant from the Fetzer Institute and the American Library Association to hold lectures, show films, and learn the art of conflict resolution and compassionate dialogue together. We were sure we knew who would lead the training. And then Jeff arrived.

Soft spoken, demure, quietly confident, Jeff Goebel is a man who signs his emails “With respect and gratitude,” a closer that suggests the reason he is able to effectively convince African tribes with deep and abiding mutual hatred to work together on common goals. When I met the man, he was heading off to do conflict resolution in Palestine.

Jeff Goebel agrees with the tenants of “Building Common Ground” the platform on which the Wilkinson Public Library is basing all our planning: through community, civility, and compassion, we can find the commonality in any group and use it as the foundation to restore peace and foster sustainability. And so with “respect and gratitude” for the beauty of our natural world and Telluriders’ deep desire to bask in it, Jeff devised a plan for a brief but intensive civility training session for our community.

The training take place over three half days, with each session building upon the lesson that came before, at the same time solidly standing on its own. Choose one, choose all. That’s your choice. But make the choice to attend. The world needs more civility. Telluride is that mystical place where good things happen, great ideas are born and nurtured and gifted to a world in desperate need of repair.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Friday morning, May 18,  “How to build trust and a safe working environment, fast!”

Friday afternoon, May 18: “A process for resolving conflict through consensus-building.”

Saturday morning, May 19: “Fostering civility in our world.”

For further information, call 970-728-4519, extension 26.

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