This was shortly after an epiphany of sorts hit me. I’d come to believe that if our country and communities like mine were to survive, we’d have to stop battling brutally over the solutions and start making them happen, together.
To my surprise, Governor Quie answered my call and suggested we meet the next day. He told me to just pick a spot and he’d show up. I chose one of my favorite coffee shops, a bookish place with lattes and scones. Our talk that day was remarkable.
Here was a tireless Republican statesman meeting with me, a fledgling civic leader—a Democrat, no less. We met several times since then. Often at one of a chain of circa 70s restaurants he likes that has cheap coffee and good pie.
I recently saw the Governor again at a talk featuring three leading Republicans and three leading Democrats. Quie didn’t speak but when the moderator pointed him out in the audience, he was given a heartfelt—and fully bipartisan—ovation.
It brought to mind how Quie persistently pushed me—as I imagine he has others—to engage equally people representative of different views in my work. Governor Quie’s challenge resulted in many stimulating dialogues. Including another remarkable restaurant meeting late in 2010.
This time Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and I shared lunch with a local executive building his GOP senate campaign. Our provocative discussion centered on the power of productive relationships we can develop by setting aside respective party stereotypes.
All of this came home for me when I viewed this video. In it, Elizabeth Lesser makes a case for how two opposite ideologies can be harnessed to elevate both.
To start she offers one simple suggestion – Take the “Other” to Lunch.
So, how about it? Are you in? If so, let me know. I’d like to report back to Governor Quie that many are following his lead!