Utah Citizens' Summit
    Saturday 12 November 2016, 08:00am - 05:00pm
    Contact John Kesler This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    © Nvnkarthik | - People care

    © Nvnkarthik | - People care


    To model how to bridge political and other divides after a challenging political season and to come together civilly, compassionately, collaboratively and inclusively in Utah and America. This includes how to model civil dialogue and creative problem solving in Utah and hence to lay the groundwork in Utah in 2017 and elsewhere for more progress to be made on identified issues and possible solutions.  And perhaps most importantly, to begin revitalizing the American Spirit and giving America a fresh start.  



    The Utah Citizen Summit on November 12, 2016 with related pre-summit and post summit activities is sponsored by the Utah Civil and Compassionate Communities initiative (UCCC)* with co-sponsoring support from the following national/global organizations: Charter for Compassion International, Citizens Summit Initiative, Village Square, Living Room Conversations. Utah co-sponsoring organizations are: Utah Humanities, Utah Campus Compact and Salt Lake City Village Square, Utah Living Room Conversations, Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, Salt Lake County Mayors Office, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah; Utah League of Cities and Towns. [Other co-sponsorships are pending]


    Pre Summit Activities

    Coming Together Through Conversation - In the two months prior to the Utah Citizens Summit, schools, institutions of higher education, communities and community groups throughout Utah will be invited and inspired to engage in dialogues around challenging issues through the topic: How Can We Come Together around challenging issues for our group, community, Utah, American or the World.  A dialogue guide will be provided with suggestions for multiple venues (dinner dialogue, living room conversation, school dialogue, community settings) and  three levels of conversation: non-facilitated, lightly facilitated, and highly facilitated to accommodate a wide range of possible settings and available resources. Among other things the dialogue guide will provide the following guidelines.

    Chose an important and challenging topic to discuss.  Be sure that your conversation group includes individuals with different perspectives on the topic for a unique conversation focused on "How Can We Come Together?" (in our group, community, in Utah, the Nation or the World).


    The Initial goals of every dialogue will be:    


    1. Make no effort to change the mind of others.

    2. Just to listen and to understand. Why I think like I think and they think like they think.

    3. Listening not to prepare an answer but to listen to their story.

    4. Listen with open mind and open heart, so the other person knows s/he is heard.

    5. Make it your object is to grasp the others' position, not react, and to understand it.

    [These goals are adapted from dialogue pioneer Carolyn Lukensmeyer and her work at the National Institute for Civic Discourse (;]

    Particularly for non-facilitated dialogues, a dialogue group may very well elect not to move beyond these modest goals in their first dialogue.  These are the basics of learning how to come together in community in a more mature way in the context of challenging issues. 

    Four framing themes
    for pursing the dialogue in this setting and thereafter will be

    1. the importance of civility, compassion and practicing the Golden Rule  
    2. seeking shared values and principles around important issues as they arise;
    3. learning how to bridge our differences in collaborative and productive ways; and
    4. respecting and appreciating others who are different than ourselves including those who hold different opinions than we do. 

    These themes provide the basics for addressing in a more mature and mutually productive manner in dealing with challenging issues and achieving optimal results, and coming together as Utahans, Americans and as members of the World community.

    Each dialogue group will be invited to send in summaries of the results of their dialogues with individual follow-ups made of each dialogue group to ensure report-backs. Representatives of each group dialogue will be invited to attend our Utah Citizen Summit Dialogue and the Summit Celebration on November 12.


    Coming Together Through Service
    – As a part of the “Global Unity Games” sponsored by the Compassion Games organizations between September 11, the United States national day of Service, and September 21, the UN’s International Day of Service, schools, institutions of higher education and communities and community groups throughout Utah will be invited and encouraged to engage in acts of service that are designed in some significant part to reflect the theme  Coming Together Through Service ”.  Coming together in service of others is one of the most powerful ways that we come together in community, as Americans and in the World.  Reports will be sent in to share what has been done during this period. We will be partnering in this regard with several groups, but the primary co-sponsoring group and lead organizations is the Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism.

    Coming Together with the Homeless
    – UCCC is celebrating the wonderful progress that has been made on homelessness in Utah through collaborative, inclusive and non-partisan approaches, and is contributing to this collective effort in various ways.  One way that we would like to highlight is that just prior to the Summit, UCCC is launching a web based global network seeking to identify and interconnect solutions to homelessness and to create new emergent possibilities in a local/global (glocal) co-learning environment. The launch of this global network is being co-sponsored by uBegin, a powerful glocal community networking platform. This resource is being offered as a resource to our collective efforts in Utah for those who might elect to use it. 


    Utah Citizens Summit on November 12


    By interlinking the pre-summit events with the day of the Summit and by looking forward to the year ahead, we anticipate this day being far more than a 'one-off' event.  Indeed, the aspiration is that Utah's Citizen Summit will be a galvanizing point to gather attention and share messages that offer encouragement for the future. For those looking for reason to remain hopeful about the power of American democracy, we hope to offer reasons to confirm and enlarge that hope.  As noted above, we hope through this event play a role in beginning to revitalize the American Spirit and to help give America a fresh start.  


    Morning –
    Utahans Coming Together in Conversation

    A citizen dialogue will be hosted including representatives from the pre-summit dialogues together with a highly diverse group of Utahans in which we will harvest important shared themes and recommendations from the pre-summit dialogues under the overall theme of “Utahans Coming Together”. New possibilities and more refined themes and recommendations regarding how Utahans and Americans can come together will emerge from a well designed and facilitated conversation. This will include basic guidelines proven nationally to help foster safe, enjoyable spaces of conversation - and interactive guidance during the course of the morning. As part of these conversations, we will consider insights that arise for addressing problems in our groups, communities, State, Nation and the World. This will lay the groundwork in Utah in 2017 for more progress to be made on identified issues and possible solutions that emerge in the dialogue. Collaborative conversation best informs decisions, and the results will help Utahans at all levels and in all sectors including elected decision makers find common ground for solutions.

    Groups in many communities throughout Utah will watch a live stream broadcast of this interactive Summit dialogue in the morning.  As part of the broadcast, many of those groups will then hold their own similar dialogues in the Utah Humanities network of library venues in communities throughout Utah, at colleges and universities throughout the State, and elsewhere in private and public venues. Following this broadcast, each local group which has been viewing the dialogue will also be invited to hold additional dialogues in their own setting around the theme: “How do we come together,” either building on the prior live stream dialogue or addressing their own approach to this conversation.  Each dialogue group throughout Utah will be invited to send in a summary of their dialogue in order to add to the richness of the harvest of this Citizens Summit


    Afternoon –
    Americans and Utahans Coming Together after a Divisive Election Season and Much National Trauma – A Panel Discussion

    Divisiveness and negativity in our presidential and other elections campaigns will have reached new heights in America by the time of the general elections on November 8, which will likely create serious concerns for many Americans. So many other factors and forces such as terrorism and conflict between law enforcement and local communities have also been traumatizing.  Hyper partisanship has heightened divisions in America. 

    The panel will first review the themes and recommendations from the morning dialogues.  They will highlight the ideas they are believe are workable and challenging or refine proposals that are problematic.  The panel will seek to harvest the most compelling ideas and harness the enthusiasm and insight of the morning dialogues in order to help set an agenda for working on these issues in Utah in 2017.

    The panel will then build on this conversation and in the context of the general elections on November 8, by discussing how we can and should come together in Utah and America politically and across all of our divides to inspire us, and to get things done for the common good.  By sharing this conversation with Utah and America we hope to help galvanize interest in similar processes and events around the country, to help inspire us all and give us a fresh start.

    A group of distinguished panelists, representing the political spectrum will address these issues.  They will be facilitated by Mark Gerzon, author of the recently released Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide, and one of the leading and most distinguished facilitators and mediators in the United States who has worked for decades on overcoming hyper partisanship in American Politics and in society generally, both in America and abroad.

    Our [proposed] distinguished panelists reflect significant diversity politically and othewise.  They are comprised of: our three UCCC co chairs, Mayor Jackie Biskupski (D), woman and openly gay Mayor of Salt Lake City; Utah Lieutenant Governor, Spencer Cox,(R) and Salt Lake County Mayor, Ben McAdams (D); David Parker (I) African American community activist and consultant; Natalie Gochnour (I), prominent economist and the representing
    [J1] the political center on her NPR program, Both Sides of the Isle, who is also director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at which this event is being held;  and two prominent Utahans, who have been working actively on the nationally this past year to overcome political hyper partisanship, former Utah Governor, John Huntsman (R); and former mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker (D).

    Following the panel discussion, the leaders of two national organizations whose programs have been making a significant impact in Utah will each speak about how we all can learn to communicate successfully and productively about challenging issues in America:  the leader of Village Square, Liz Joyner, and the leader of Living Room Conversations, Joan Blades.

    [We are working on getting this event televised in Utah, and perhaps even nationally]  

    The dialogues during the day will be held in the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  It is being organized by Utah Village Square in partnership with UCCC. The Utah League of Cities and Towns will also be using its communication channels and good will to assist in the promotion of these dialogical event. 


    Evening -
    Utah Citizens Summit Celebration

    There will be an evening of celebration of the exceptional, civil, compassionate, collaborative and inclusive oriented work that has between done in Utah over many years. A call will be made to our local, state, national and international leaders and institutions to begin pursing more civil, compassionate, collaborative, inclusive approaches processes and institutions (political and otherwise) which yield higher quality decisions and policies.  The co-chairs of Utah Civil and Compassionate Communities will offer remarks on the importance of such approaches and present awards to several Utah and National individuals and organizations who have been working long and hard and successfully to help bring Utahans and Americans together [final decision on awards to be made on August 18]  John Steiner, co-founder of both the Bridge Alliance, and the national Citizens Summit and leader in many other transpartisan initiatives, will introduce the launch of a new national initiative, Americans Coming Together. This theme of coming together will have been embodied and modeled throughout our Utah Citizens Summit.  A complementary key note address for the evening will be delivered by Mark Gerzon, a leading speaker, author and consultant regarding the importance of inclusive, civil, compassionate and collaborative democracy in America and the world. 

    This event will be held in the Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City, a Salt Lake County facility, sponsored by the Salt Lake County Mayor’s office.


    Citizen Summit Training and Webinar – (First Quarter of 2017)   

    Three full day workshops will be offered. The first day:  Train and create capacity for collaborative and effective conversation grounded in civility, compassion and the golden rule; seeking shared values and principles around issues of concern and which models collaborative and inclusive approaches to bridging our differences and overcoming hyper-partisanship in the civic and public squares, which has become so pervasive in American democracy.  A particular focus for this training will be to demonstrate that combative and partisan approaches reflect the skills and motivations of lower levels of individual and collective human development and result in less successful outcomes, and that more civil, compassionate, inclusive and collaborative approaches reflect higher stages of human capacities and yield high quality and more mutually acceptable results.  The second day:  We will train principles, processes and strategies which for instance enabled UCCC to generate this unique Utah citizen summit event, including but not limited to the principles of abundance, self organizing, social entrepreneurship and facilitative leadership. The third day we will train how to achieve powerful and measurable, optimal and sustainable results touching into areas of consciousness and human development, cultural enrichment, process and system strategies and effective practices, which reflect local/global (“glocal”) sensibilities.

    The three workshops will also be offered as an online webinar-offered by the Salt Lake Civil Network, the non-profit sponsor of UCCC.

    *The Utah Civil and Compassionate Communities advisory board co-chairs are Utah Lieutenant Governor, Spencer Cox (R) ; Salt Lake County Mayor, Ben McAdams (D); and Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski(D) who serve together with a highly diverse advisory board comprised of approximately 40 Utahans.

    If your community is interested in participating in a community of learning regarding this and future local citizen summits and citizen engagement and similar approaches to community and societal flourishing in a national and global environment, please contact John Kesler at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    If your community is interested in participating in a community of learning regarding globally sourced creative and inclusive approaches to homelessness please contact Camille Winnie at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Location Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City
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