Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | October 25.2018

October 25, 2018

Today’s Program | Thursday, October 25, 2018

Today:  Dan Hofrenning, Political Landscape (Siems)

Next Week: Richard DeBeau, Classification (Davis)

Birthdays: Barry Carlson (10/22), Doug Crane (10/25), Mark Gleason (10/20), Rob Martin (10/23), Bruce Morlan (10/18), Brett Reese (10/25)

Statement of Purpose: Northfield Rotary Club is dedicated to promoting peace and understanding through service and shared experience. We invite people from all corners of the community to join us as we partner with others to support youth, build sustainable infrastructure and preserve our planet.


Pat Richardson (Richardson), Emily Fulton (Atchison), Petra and Hans Rong (Reppmann)


  • Alan Anderson shared an article about climate change from and reminded us to take the climate change survey
  • Kurt Larson says the Turkey Trot has already surpassed last year’s corporate sponsorships. Yard signs will be available after Nov. 7. Rick Estenson says runners should sign up by Nov. 9 to get a t-shirt. See Kurt or Rick if you can volunteer to help with the event on Thanksgiving morning.
  • Brett Reese urges everyone to vote on Nov. 6 – two important referendums on the ballot for Northfield Schools and the proposed Cannon River Civic Center
  • Kristi Purcell invited everyone to Keepsake Cidery for the CRWP Membership Appreciation dinner and tour on October 26 from 5:30-8pm. There is a suggested $50 donation for dinner.
  • If you are interested in learning more about human trafficking, Rotary is holding a training event on Saturday, Nov. 3, 9 a.m. to noon at the Southdale Library in Edina. For more information, contact Meg at
  • The Annual Foundation Celebration Dinner, Saturday evening, Nov. 10, in Oakdale will shine the light on Rotary’s polio eradication campaign. Nancy Barbee will be the keynote speaker. Jean Wakely is planning to attend. Contact her if you are interested. There is a discount on tickets if we reserve a table for eight. 

Scholarship Enhancement:  Carl Behr

Happy News:

  • Virginia Kaczmarek thanks everyone for their support through the years and says she will stay at our Rotary club through November.

Last Week:

You may not know that Bruce Morlan was in the Air Force and was later a mediator in Rice County courts. He is the chair of the Citizens Climate Lobby. He is learning about how people use language as a weapon and shield and once went to Washington DC to speak about being bi-lingual and bi-partisan. You also might not know that Bruce likes to draw political cartoons. He introduced Bill Doherty, a Marriage and Family Therapist who co-founded Better Angels. Bill spoke on Restoring Civility to our Political Discourse.

Political polarization is spiking in America and is now at a historical high. In 1960, 5% of survey respondents were uncomfortable with their son or daughter marrying someone from the other political party. That has now risen to 35-40%.

Bill asked us, “What are the sources of this rise in polarization?” We responded with answers like: media, labels, only reading things you agree with, tailored news, financial insecurity, fear of the future, personal entitlement, destruction of decorum and hate speech. After the 2016 presidential election there were two populations: one feeling buoyed by hope and change and one feeling intense grief. We cannot run our communities with this level of polarization.

Bill toured 8 states and 15 towns on a bus tour to help people learn about communicating across the divide. The name Better Angels comes from an Abraham Lincoln quote that says, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

The mission of Better Angels is to depolarize America. They want to help us to find understanding of each other beyond stereotypes and find common ground. Bill says we need to create a structured conversation to help people change their minds about each other. We are all assuming the other side doesn’t care about this country–that we have profound moral differences. But we aren’t that different. Better Angels teach how to set a tone so the other person might be receptive.

Be curious and use good listening skills, speaking in a way that makes them hear you. Even therapists struggle to use their own communication techniques when it comes to politics. Think of it as an interfaith conversation-the goal is not to change their mind. Don’t characterize their position. Stick to characterizing your own side. You can achieve disagreement but you will understand where you differ and where you agree. Better Angels also teaches how to get out of the conversation when there is a meltdown. Don’t answer bait and provocation. Don’t try it in a group, particularly a family group. Try a one-on-one conversation, but not online—people are losing 30-year long friendships. Reds and blues tend to use the same terms differently, which can create mistranslations.

Minnesota has become the hub of this work. St. Olaf held a successful student-led red/blue workshop recently. We have polarization based on geography-states didn’t used to be red or blue. The demoralized middle is seen as a sellout. But people can form a red/blue alliance and diminish this toxic polarization. We need to humanize the other side. We can agree on policy without changing our political identity. Better Angels encourages people to come together and get something done. Visit to learn more and get on their mailing list.

Coming Up:

Nov 8 – Simone Gaetani, Inbound from Italy (Longwich)

Nov 15 – Sherri Meyers, Classification (Kaczmarek)