(Photo above: Central Oregon has a rich history of public conversation, one of which is illustrated by this May 1912 photo taken on the porch of the Drake Lodge. The group pictured includes Sara Ehrgott (Sara Bard Field), a well-known state organizer for the campaign for Votes for Women. It is important to note that after suffrage passed in Oregon’s November 1912 election the city of Bend had a city election the following month, December. That election was the first in the state in which women exercised their voting right. It would be another eight years before everywoman had that right and the 19th Amendment was ratified. Photo and historic credit: Deschutes County Historical Society)
City Club of Central Oregon opened nominations to the public on May 25for its newly minted Conversation of the Year Award. The Award will be given in October to recognize the community conversation that best reflects City Club’s mission, which is “to build a conscious and civic minded community through dialog, education and research that results in responsible civic engagement.”
Unlike most awards, which recognize individual achievement, the Conversation of the Year Award will celebrate the quality of the conversation, itself, and recognize the community as the true winner. That said, one or more individuals, for-profits, non-profits, or government entities will receive the circulating trophy for their participation in the conversation. The custom trophy contains several historically significant symbols of historically significant Central Oregon conversations.
The trophy, sponsored by Schmid Malone Buchanan, LLC, will be unveiled at one of City Club’s upcoming forums.
When asked about City Club’s tagline Conversation Creates Community, Bill Buchanan of Schmid Malone Buchanan said, “City Club doesn’t pick sides. It provides a microphone for sharing different perspectives. This Award celebrates those conversations and City Club’s faith that civil discourse builds a stronger community.”
Because City Club is nonpartisan, the Award will recognize the quality of the conversation rather than its outcome. Although City Club hosts numerous forums on matters of public interest, the selection committee will consider community conversations that occur throughout the community—not just those at City Club venues.
Important conversations often span months or even years. It, therefore, stands to reason that the winning conversation may have taken place over a longer period than just the preceding year. There will be no strict restrictions limiting conversations based on when they occurred, particularly given that this is the first year in which the award will be given.
City Club prides itself for being tough on issues but easy on people, and in training its members to disagree without being disagreeable. In keeping with those values, zealous advocacy will not be penalized, but will be embraced, by the selection committee provided that such advocacy is civil, responsible, and reflects City Club’s mission.
The selection committee is comprised of City Club’s former presidents. Nominations can be made by anyone by emailing their nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org , to any City Club board member, or to any past president. To nominate a conversation, simply identify the conversation, its key participants, and why you believe that conversation best reflects City Club’s mission.
The selection committee will announce its finalists in early September, and will announce the winning Conversation of the Year at its membership recognition event in October.