June 3, 2019
On the morning of Monday, June 3, twenty-five persons gathered in the abbey’s calefactory for our sixth annual symposium. The topic this year was considering ways in which to counteract the decline in civil discourse so evident in our society today. The program opened with some remarks by two persons engaged full time in such work: Cassandra Dahnke, co-founder of the Institute for Civility in Government (headquartered in Houston), and John Richter, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Congress Project. After their brief presentations, the floor was opened for everyone present to give their reflections, all of which were thoughtful, including ones that offered practical ways of promoting civil discourse. Ms. Dahnke also gave everyone present a copy of a book she co-authored: Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square: Ten Rules that Work, while Mr. Richter left material about the work of his center. The symposium concluded with a catered lunch funded by a longtime friend of the abbey who also participated in the morning’s conversation. The photo shows Ms. Dahnke speaking, with Mr. Richter to her left, they being flanked by two of the attendees.