Bunnie Strassner says she got tired of people yelling and de-friending each other due to the current political environment.
“We have been struggling in the current administration to find people who can talk reasonably with each other. Everyone seems to be yelling at each other and yelling at their televisions and throwing things at their televisions apparently. And civil discourse has gone the way of the dodo bird and I got tired of it. I’m a big fan of civil discourse, I like people talking reasonably to each other, and I have lost friends that I’ve had for 50 years, and it doesn’t make sense.”
Strassner is holding an ongoing series of Politician-free Town Hall Meetings twice a month in Lafayette at the East Simpson Coffee Company, 414 East Simpson Street. Strassner says the meetings are politician free because many politicians have been belligerent and unpleasant to their constituents during townhalls, or have been outright lying. “I think people need to start talking to each other again.”
Strassner invites people from all sides of the political spectrum to come meet their neighbors and have civil conversations about the issues that impact our lives. “People tend to talk to each other when they’re fact to face. They are not quite as willing to be belligerent or hostile or angry or rude when they’re sitting face to face, and we’ve had some wonderful conversations and surprising levels of agreement and people willing to discuss these issues in a way that bring a meeting of the minds, surprisingly so. I have some very, very conservative friends who are supporters of the president and supporters of the way he’s doing things. And I have some other people who come who are friends who are staunchly opposed to everything he does and everything he says but somewhere in the middle there are meetings of the minds. and it’s wonderful to see and we hope to increase participation and grow it out into the larger Denver area, the larger Colorado area and perhaps wider than that.”
Topics are typically prepared for each meeting, but since thing are changing daily, Strassner says participants should be ready to discuss whatever happened this week. “I try so hard to set up a topic, and since it is every two weeks, things are happening much too fast. So every time I try to set up a meeting about the media for example, something comes along two days before.”
Everyone is invited to participate but there are some ground rules: Don’t come angry or loud, be respectful and listen as much as you speak. “I have found that even the most conservative adults will listen to a fact if you can present it properly. So we have a good time talking to everybody. I always have a computer with me and I always have a couple of Sunday newspapers with opinion sections from all sides, and I try to back up everything I find with a fact to go along with it.”
Strassner says the primary goal in these forums is to make sure the truth gets out. “Because in the final analysis, the truth is the most important thing. I don’t care who is speaking, along as they’re saying true things.”
The next politician free townhall meeting is Thursday May 25th, 7-9pm at East Simpson Coffee Company, 414 East Simpson Street, Lafayette.