Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Friday, March 17 | Finding Your Zen In Polarized Politics and Religion

Dialogue leader: Thomas McConkie

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

Whether your attention is drawn to the toxic climate of U.S. politics, or your sights are set closer to home on the significant social issues facing Mormonism, never before have there been so many strident and differing viewpoints competing in the same space. 
What if we could hold our stories more lightly, though? What if we could find a space within ourselves expansive enough to hold all these divergent views with both courage and compassion?
Join us for a walk on the contemplative side at our March Think Again. Lifelong meditator and facilitator, Thomas McConkie, will guide a process to help bring greater clarity to your convictions as well as a deeper humility to allow others to do the same.
For times that feel increasingly insane, finding your Zen in thoughtful community could be just the tonic.

About Thomas:
Thomas is the author of Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis, a book that radically reframes faith crisis as a natural cycle in spiritual growth. He currently serves as Faculty at Pacific Integral where he researches adult development and leads retreats  with a focus on transformative learning. He has been practicing mindfulness and other meditative techniques for almost 20 years and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thursday, February 16 | Where and How Do Refugees Find Refuge?

Dialogue leader: Tiffany Ivins, moderator of a panel of local refugees

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

It's one thing to talk about refugees and what is best for them—or for what is best for host countries taking them in. It's another thing to actually talk to refugees and hear their stories and ask them questions. Especially refugees affected by President Trump's recent executive order. That's what we will do at this next Think Again thanks to Tiffany Ivins suggestion and her creation of a panel of refugees that she will moderate. 

Tiffany and her husband Mitchell originated our Think Again group. They both have vast experience seeking to improve educational opportunities among women and children in far away places. Tiffany has a doctorate in instructional psychology and technology and is an International development consultant with experience in Asia, Africa & Latin America. 

Nour Eddin arrived in Utah in March of 2015 with his wife and family of five children. They fled Damascus, Syria, in 2011 and spent time living in Libya and Egypt. Nour is a chef who owned a restaurant and catering business in Syria, Libya, and Egypt. With help from the Spice Kitchen Incubator in Salt Lake County, Nour Eddin is working to grow his catering business with the hopes of opening a restaurant.
Because of his love and concern for refugee families of all national origins, Nour Eddin organized the Jasmine Community of Utah in November of 2016. This non-profit organization receives donations and provides resources to local refugee families throughout the Salt Lake City area.

Stuff to explore:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thursday, January 19 | Running Up For Air

Dialogue leader: Jared Campbell

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

Simple idea: Breathing clean air makes for better health and a better quality of life. Dirty air creates all kinds of health problems especially effecting children, seniors, and those with asthma and allergies. Studies have also shown a correlation with slower brain function, ADHD and Autism. All this without even touching the effects of greenhouse gasses and climate change. 

What can be done? Actually a lot, as demonstrated by Jared Campbell. Jared will share what he has personally done—like building a modest, cost-effective net-positive passive solar home as well as other lifestyle choices, as well as making a very public plea through his annual "Running Up For Air" endurance mountain challenge that he created to raise money in support of the fight for improved air quality for those who live along the Wasatch Front. Jared will lead a discussion in what is being done and what we can do to have cleaner air and better health for all.  

About Jared:
Jared is a modest family man who is warm, intelligent, and generous but also remarkable in ways few know because of that modesty. Jared has shared how to improve air quality through various methods in many venues, including at a prior Think Again. 

Jared is the Chief Engineer of the Advanced RF and Mechanical Design Group at L-3 Communications in Salt Lake City. With over 10 years of experience at L-3, Jared has acted as a design engineer, team-lead, project lead, Systems Engineer, and Chief Technologist. In 2012, Jared was recognized as an L-3 Corporate-level "Engineer of the Year." Prior to working in industry, Jared attended the University of Utah in the engineering program and working as a research assistant in the computational and physical fluid dynamics laboratories. As avid rock climbers and trail runners, Jared and his wife have traveled the country and world in search of beautiful places, wonderful people, and unique culture. In 2011 they completed their goal of building a net-positive home in Sugarhouse, which has exceeded their performance expectations, producing all of the home's heat, hot water, electricity, and energy for their electric vehicles using basic passive solar design principles and a PhotoVoltaic Array. Jared also serves on the Board of Directors for Reach Out and Learn, a Utah-based nonprofit group that works to improve the lifestyle of individuals, families, and communities in need.

Jared is also highlighted in the documentary covering the secretive and notorious Barkley Marathons. Here's how his main adventure buddy, Buzz, describes him:

"Jared is indeed the best athlete many people have never heard of. He’s not on Facebook, but has heli-kayaked in New Zealand, climbed over 50 5.13 routes, biked, climbed, run, and canyoneered all over, and dragged my sorry *ss through the scratchiest bushes you’ve ever seen. Instead of quitting school and asking outdoor companies to sponsor him, he’s the Lead Engineer at a high-profile firm; instead of talking about himself on social media he spends quality time with his family, and rather than thinking it’s cool to live out the back of truck, he designed, built, and lives in a Net-Positive House: it produces more energy than it uses for all its heating, lighting, and even transportation requirements."

Stuff to explore:

The Barkley Marathons Trailer (available on Netflix)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thursday, November 17 | Exploring Our Political Opponents

Thursday, November 17 , 7:30 pm  |  Dialogue leaders: Jacob Hess & Shelly Jenson

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

Simple idea: Spend some time seeking to understand and empathize with your political opposite. This evening will be most successful if we come prepared with some ground-work laid as well as an open mind and heart. Then come ready to enjoy a facilitated discussion regarding what we discovered and how we might help our community and nation following the election come together in policies and actions that will create a better tomorrow.  

Think Again has become a beloved community of mostly progressives and liberals. I would love to see us, especially following this election, seek greater understanding and reconciliation with those different than us. Even better, I'd love those same people we see at times as the "crazy other" to be a part of our community and help us be better at "thinking again." 

Will you please take the time to participate in the exercises below and come prepared to share next Thursday your thoughts? The only way I see forward is through individuals and communities taking the time to see each other as fellow flawed human beings needing greater understanding, respect, and compassion for one another. This won't result in us agreeing on some of the most divisive issues (nor should it) but it will mean we can find ways to balance each other's views and beliefs in healthy and more productive ways.

Discussion leaders: Jacob Hess and Shelly Jenson are co-directors of the Utah chapter of the Village Square. Jacob leans right and Shelly to the left. 

Jacob Hess is the author of 13 peer reviewed articles exploring contrasting narratives of mental health and sociopolitical issues.  He currently directs the non-profit, All of Life which offers free online classes exploring applications of mindfulness for those facing mental health challenges. Jacob has (co)authored three books: You’re Not  as Crazy as I Thought, But You’re Still WrongOnce Upon a Time…He Wasn’t Feeling It Anymore and A Third Space: Proposing Another Way Forward in the LGBT/Religious Conservative Impasse (Disagreement Practice, Treasonous Friendship & Trustworthy Rivalry in the Face of Irreconcilable Difference). Two other projects – Red Blue Dictionary and My Science Can Beat Up Your Science, will be released this fall.  His work with Phil Neisser at State University of New York has been featured on This American Life and was recently honored by Public Conversations Project. As a proud partner of Living Room Conversationsthe Village Square and a long-term member of the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation, Jacob’s life work is dedicated to making space for thoughtful, good-hearted people to find understanding (and affection) while exploring together the deepest of disagreements.

Shelly Jenson stems from a lineage of highly analytical and intelligent people who thought they could think their way out of the chaos-of-daily-living. Shelly gave it her best shot but failed, only to find that she valued the mind less than the sharing of hearts. And so, Shelly now spends her free-time cultivating a lifestyle in which connection, sincerity and empathy are the foundation. Shelly’s passions include silence, mediation, contemplating the infinite capacity of the human heart and discovering deep connections with the Spirit of Life in it’s many form. Above all else, Shelly adores the gift she has been given to raise two tremendously rare beings, Hannah and Nicholas, who are her greatest joy and most powerful teachers. Shelly also wonders why she needs to write her bio from the perspective of the third person: a wink and a nod to the oddities of life!

Shelly is a student of the Buddhist meditation called Vipassana. She volunteers with a local non-profit environmental group called Wild Utah Project studying sage grouse habitat and the effects of longterm cattle ranching. Shelly is a practitioner of Jin Shin Jyutsu which is the ancient Japanese art of harmonizing the life-force energy of an individual, which is derived from the natural wisdom within each of us. Her business is called Effortless Harmony and is located in Sugarhouse.  Shelly also studies ancient, indigenous ways of living at the non-traditional school called Flowering Mountain, located in New Mexico.

Consider that in very real ways, perceptions become realities. Information and experience inform our perceptions and therefore shape our reality. It follows then that we change reality by changing our perceptions through new information and experience.
  • Thoughtfully consider three ideological concepts that you appreciate about those who are politically different than you. 
  • What are three goals your political opposition wants to accomplish that you can also get behind and help advance?
  • Ask someone who voted for the candidate that you did not to share why they voted the way they did. Ask what their hopes are for our country. Ask with genuine curiosity to understand their point of view. 
  • Invite three people whom you believe to be politically different than you to come to this evening’s Think Again. 
  • Come prepared to share your thoughts and experiences.
  • Come this Saturday to some part (if not all) of the Utah Citizen Summit

Stuff to explore:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Thursday, October 20 | Reloaded: Brain science: Myths, applications, and methods for better living

Thursday, October 20 , 7:30 pm  |  Dialogue leader: Kellie Yates

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

Last month, we were set to have Kelly come but she suffered an accident on the way to our group. We've arranged a police escort this time around to ensure her safe arrival.

While much progress has ben made in recent years regarding brain science and its application, myth and misunderstanding too often get in the way of truth.  In this discussion we will learn what has been discovered, why and how we can use neuroscience to increase understanding of ourselves and others, and other brain basics which can help maximize learning and retention.

Topics for discussion include brain biology, diet, “tricks” for remembering things, keeping the brain active, and general brain health. 

About Kellie:
(as written by husband, Walter Yates.)

Kellie learned to break the rules of learning first in kindergarten. As an otherwise exceptionally bright 5 year old she struggled to pass the reading assessment. Her hangup was following the rules the teacher had taught, sounding out every letter. This made her appear “slow” and resulted in having to re-read the same books over and over, despite desperately wanting to read new books.  Privately she was reading whole words or even groups of words but she feared breaking the teacher’s rules out loud.  One day she messed up and broke the rule, she just said the word, and was warmly congratulated- never realizing previously that was the whole point. 

Kellie's is a admitted introvert, who’s love of learning shines in her eyes as she exudes a passion for learning that is infectious to her audience. For the past decade the passion of her life is helping others discover and develop the skills to learn.

Kellie has an exceptionally fine tuned ear, and was on a musicians path in high school excelling as a cellist and singer. In college she gave up her Music Major after needing surgery on her arms.  She made up the coursework and graduated in four years with a degree in Technology and Industrial Education. 

Still a rule follower at heart, Kellie has become an expert in helping others learn. Kellie can be found presenting and meeting with Utah teachers, administrators and policy makers as she presents at conferences around the state, consults with legislators, and sits on government and nonprofit boards.

Kellie is a Trainer in the intersection of Neuroscience and Education being certified by Pat Wolfe, internationally recognized neuroscience and education researcher.  Kellie is currently employed as the STEM Liaison and Outreach Specialist for the State of Utah at the STEM Action Center where she oversees Professional Development and STEM School Designation. She LOVES animals, is witty, a cellist & music teacher, a retired record setting sudoku player, a certified Genius, can hear people’s eyelids blink, and an avid reader who read over 600 books last year according to her kindle- which doesn't count the paperbacks.

To explore: 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

August 18 | Living and Dying in the Modern Age: Living Wills, Control, and Mortality

Thursday, August 18, 7:30 pm  |  Dialogue leader: Samuel Brown

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

Hospital intensive care units have changed when and how we die–and not always for the better.

The ICU is a new world, one in which once-fatal diseases can be cured and medical treatments greatly enhance our chances of full recovery. But, paradoxically, these places of physical healing can exact a terrible toll, and by focusing on technology rather than humanity, they too often rob the dying of their dignity. By some accounts, the expensive medical treatments provided in ICUs also threaten to bankrupt the nation.

In an attempt to give patients a voice in the ICU when they might not otherwise have one, the living will was introduced in 1969, in response to several notorious cases. These documents were meant to keep physicians from ignoring patients’ and families’ wishes in stressful situations. Unfortunately, despite their aspirations, living wills contain static statements about hypothetical preferences that rarely apply in practice. And they created a process that isn’t faithful to who we are as human beings. Further confusing difficult and painful situations, living wills leave patients with the impression that actual communication with their physicians has taken place, when in fact their deepest desires and values remain unaddressed.

In this provocative and empathetic book, medical researcher and ICU physician Samuel Morris Brown uses stories from his clinical practice to outline a new way of thinking about life-threatening illness. Brown’s approach acknowledges the conflicting emotions we have when talking about the possibility of death and proposes strategies by which patients, their families, and medical practitioners can better address human needs before, during, and after serious illness.

Arguing that any solution to the problems of the inhumanity of intensive care must take advantage of new research on the ways human beings process information and make choices, Brown imagines a truly humane ICU. His manifesto for reform advocates wholeness and healing for people facing life-threatening illness.

About Samuel:
Samuel Morris Brown is Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of Utah School of Medicine and founder and director of the Center for Humanizing Critical Care at Intermountain Medical Center. A practicing intensive care physician, researcher and award-winning historian of ideas, Dr. Brown writes at the intersections of medicine, ethics, and culture. 

June 30 | How Crazies in the Past Might Have Described Our Present and How You Might Predict the Future

Thursday, June 30, 7:30 pm  |  Dialogue leader: Rick Casady

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

Imagine yourself living a century ago, making predictions about coming events. Who would have foreseen the Great Depression, hyperinflation, World War II, the nuclear era, the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, the collapse of colonial empires, today's technological marvels, or the massive social upheaval which attended these? We invite you to read one author's descriptions (attributed to people associated with the Dada movement and Zürich, Switzerland in 1916) and share your observations about our wildly improbable present. We would also like your predictions about what significant events or trends will occur in the coming decades.

About Rick:
San Francisco native. Father, a veteran of the Big Red One and school teacher, had pioneer ancestry on maternal line (Parkers, Knowltons, Corays, Dusenberrys). Mother, a social worker and musician, had pioneer ancestry on paternal line (Walls, Josephsons, Hendriksensd from Sweden and Denmark). Grew up in San Jose, California. 5th of 6 children. We drove parents to early graves. Main family misfit (only registered Democrat, only divorced sibling). Professional student for many years, until death and incapacity of parents prompted pursuit of employment and marriage. Finally ended up with B.A. in German, M.L.S (Masters in Library Science), and M.A. in Comparative Literature (all from BYU). I sired three bright, aspiring children, and have grandchildren. Worked for many years for FamilySearch.org, Salt Lake City and County Library systems. Aspiring writer, researcher, and Weltverbesserer.

To explore:
Come prepared to have fun with this document that Rick produced:  
  • Futures studies as discipline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futures_studies
  • Emerging technologies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_technologies
  • List of predictions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_predictions
  • Partial list of apocalyptic predictions from the past:
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events