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Extension > Epsilon Sigma Pi Minnesota Chapter > Cultivating a Climate of Civil Dialogue at PILD 2018

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cultivating a Climate of Civil Dialogue at PILD 2018

By Suzanne Driessen

April 26, 2018

As the ESP Pi Chapter President, I was our delegate at the 2018 Public Institute Leadership Conference (PILD), April 8-12, 2018, Hyatt Regency, Arlington, VA.

This year the theme, Cultivating a Climate of Civil Dialogue, focused on becoming involved in civil engagement in policy and advocacy. The agenda was filled with speakers on restoring our democracy, rediscovering humanity in an increasingly polarized world and communicating Extension’s value to stakeholders and partners.

Staffers from the house and senate prepped us for our hill visits. They advised us to:

  • Make the visit memorable for the staffer or legislator. 
  • Don’t be partisan.
  • Your ask should include who, what, why.
  • Tell a story about the issue and its impact on your community. 

The national 4-H youth conference was held in D.C. at the same time allowing five 4-H members to join our group and meet with MN Congressional Offices. Representative Nolan and Congressman Peterson were personally at the legislative visit.


Our capstone speaker, John Nolter, a fellow Minnesotan, joined us on our hill visits. John is a freelance photographer. He travels around our nation and the globe. He interviews people about the meaning of peace. Check out his website here.

John shared six lessons he discovered through his peace project work to create common good and civil dialogue:

  1.  Listen to difficult realities—let go of your crazy.
  2. Look for solutions—what is a liability, change to an asset.
  3. Stay at the table. 
  4. Stay true to your values.
  5. Try again.
  6. Forgive. 

John set-up shop at PILD. He asked attendees, How have you cultivated civil dialogue in the past year? Fifty-five attendees participated, including four from our Minnesota delegation. Check out the video here. Password is: JCEP.

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