2017-10-12 / Local

Bowdoin College to host Make Shift Coffee House event

BY NATHAN STROUT
Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK

On Oct. 17, Bowdoin College will host a Make Shift Coffee House to discuss “The Rightful Role of Morality in Politics.” The event is part of the What Matters dialogue series organized by the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good.

“Sometimes we want our politicians to exercise moral judgement, but other times we absolutely want them to keep morality out of politics,” said Craig Freshley, a professional meeting moderator who founded the Make Shift Coffee Houses and acts as a facilitator.

The Make Shift Coffee Houses are about understanding where people with different viewpoints are coming from, not deciding which side is right or wrong, explained Freshley. The purpose is to listen, not to debate.

“As usual, we are inviting Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals — people with all political views — to talk about different aspects of this question,” he said.

The event consists of live music, food and drinks, small group discussions and a large discussion facilitated by Freshley.

The Bowdoin College event will be Freshley’s eighth Make Shift Coffee House event. He has previously hosted events at both Patten Free Library and Curtis Memorial Library. Freshley started the series of events in January in response to what he felt were deep divisions in recent election stemming from a lack of understanding.

“I have never seen our country so divided,” Freshley told The Times Record in January. “I’m 55 years old and I’ve lived through a lot of elections, and I think that we are more polarized now than I can ever remember. In this election in particular, we had one candidate that won the popular vote and we had another candidate that won the Electoral College vote. People are not only very passionate about their own position, people are passionate against the other side more than I’ve ever seen. That’s troubling to me.”

The Make Shift Coffee House was recently named a finalist for the American Civic Collaboration Award, a national award. The awards are presented by The Bridge Alliance and Big Tent Nation, and represent efforts to fight partisanship and division in politics.

“The 2017 American Civic Collaboration Awards finalists all exemplify what it means to embrace diverse perspectives and make a difference. Selected by a panel of civic engagement experts from over 50 nominations, this year’s finalists have achieved on-the-ground impact at the youth, regional and national level,” according to a press release announcing the finalists.

“We’re really honored for that,” said Freshley.

The Bowdoin College event will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Dagget Lounge in Thorne Hall, and is free and open to the public.

nstrout@timesrecord.com

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