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For More Civil Politics — Start With School Kids

RestoringRespect_1_t250.jpg
For More Civil Politics — Start With School Kids
For More Civil Politics — Start With School Kids
For More Civil Politics — Start With School Kids GUESTS: Carl Luna, political science professor, Mesa College Steven Dinkin, president, National Conflict Resolution Center

OUR TOP STORY ON MIDDAY EDITION , THE ANNUAL CIVILITY CONFERENCE IN SAN DIEGO IS EXPANDING ITS SITES. IN THE PAST, THE CONFERENCE ON RESTORING CIVILITY TO CIVIC DIALOGUE WAS CONCENTRATED ON THE NASTY OUT HEARST AND INNUENDOS OF POLITICAL RHETORIC. BUT NOW, IN ITS FOURTH YEAR, THE DISCUSSION WILL INCLUDE HOW KIDS LEARN TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN THE FIRST PLACE. BY PLACING AN EMPHASIS ON CREATING CIVIL CONVERSATIONS IN THE CLASSROOM. JOINING ME IS THE MODERATOR OF DISABILITY CONFERENCE, CARL LUNA, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR AT MESA COLLEGE. GOOD TO BE HERE. STEVEN DINKIN, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER A KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THIS YEAR STABILITY CONFERENCE. WELCOME. MY PLEASURE. PART OF THE NAME, CARL, OF THIS CONFERENCE, RESTORING EXPECT, GOOD SOUND A BIT STODGY. DO YOU MEAN RESPECT TOWARDS INSTITUTIONS? TOWARDS TITLES OF AUTHORITY? IN SOME WAYS, MURRAY, THE TITLE IS DISINGENUOUS BECAUSE SOME WOULD SAY IT WOULD IMPLY A TIME THERE WAS TREMENDOUS RESPECT IN OUR SOCIETY. BACK IN THE 60s, YOU HAD POLITENESS, LOOK AT THE DEEP SOUTH BUT THAT WAS A MASK FOR A LOT OF IMPOLITE UNCIVIL BEHAVIOR. IN GENERAL, IF YOU LOOK AT OUR CIVIL DISCOURSE, IT IS VISCERAL THAT IT WAS A GENERATION OR TWO AGO. THE NEGATIVITY, POLARIZATION IS IMMEASURABLY WORSE IN CONGRESS AND HAS BEEN SINCE THE 19th CENTURY. TO THAT DEGREE, WE WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER THE FIRST THREE WORDS OF THE CONSTITUTION ARE WE THE PEOPLE. WE ALL HAVE TO BENEFIT SO THAT THE IDEA OF RESTORING RESPECTED EACH OTHER. WE CAN DISAGREE BUT WE HAVE TO AGREE THAT WE ARE ALL TRYING FOR A BETTER AMERICA AND WHAT IS THE CONTEXT BEHIND RESPECTING SOMEONE THAT YOU DISAGREE WITH? I ASK IT SEEMS THE BASIS OF WHY WE SHOULD RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE AND THEIR OPINIONS IS SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT CLEAR ABOUT ANYMORE. WE RESPECT EACH OTHER BECAUSE ONLY THROUGH RESPECTING OTHERS CAN WE RECEIVE RESPECT OURSELVES. THERE IS A DEFINITE SELF INTEREST YEAR. OUR SOCIETY IS BASED ON SOCIAL CONTRACT THAT I RESPECT YOUR RIGHTS, YOU RESPECT MINE, IF WE HAVE A PART -- PROBLEM WE GO TO THIRD-PARTY ARBITRATOR. AS SOON AS RESPECT BREAKS DOWN THE SOCIAL CONTRACT BREAKS DOWN AND IS NOW ME WINNING OVER YOU. ONCE YOU GET TO THAT THERE'S NO DEMOCRACY OR CONSENSUS PICK THAT THE PAST WE BEEN SLIPPING DOWN THAT WE NEED TO REVERSE. I THINK YOU ARE RIGHT. I THINK WE WOULD AGREE THAT THAT IS THE PATH WE ARE SLIPPING DOWN. IT IS HARD WHEN IT SEEMS THAT THE GOAL OF A CERTAIN DIALOGUE IS TO DEMONIZE THE OTHER PERSON YOU ARE SPEAKING WITH. THAT WE CAN TURN THAT AROUND AND BRING THAT BACK TO THE KIND OF MUTUAL RESPECT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. AS STEVE CAN TELL YOU FROM THE NATIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER, AS SOON AS YOU ARE DEMONIZING THE OTHER SIDE, IT'S NOT THE DIALOGUE. IT IS NOW A DIATRIBE. DIATRIBE IS NOT BASED ON REACHING CONSENSUS AND SOLUTION, IT'S BASED ON DOMINATION AND ELIMINATION. WE THE PEOPLE DOES NOT MEAN SOME OF THE PEOPLE GET RID OF SOME OTHER PEOPLE. WE HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER. LET ME BRING YOU INTO THE CONVERSATION. THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER THIS YEAR. WHAT WILL YOU FOCUS ON ? I'M GOING TO BE LOOKING AT CIVILITY AND NOT JUST THE FACT THAT THERE IS INSTABILITY BUT THERE IS ALSO I THINK -- INCIVILITY BUT I THINK THERE ARE RAYS OF HOPE. THERE ARE LEADERS IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE STARTING TO TAKE ACCOUNT FOR CIVILITY AND MOVING THE PROCESS FORWARD TOWARD GREATER DIALOGUE IS THE CONCEPT OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO LEARN? I MEAN IT OFTEN SEEMS PEOPLE HAVE A TENDENCY TO NURSE THEIR GRIEVANCES. AND RESIST FINDING SOLUTIONS. CONFLICT RESOLUTION IS NOT NECESSARILY INTUITIVE. IT IS A LEARNED SKILL. WHAT WE TEACH AT THE NATIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER IS THE ART OF COMMUNICATION. IT IS RESPECTFUL DIALOGUE, IT IS HOW TO LISTEN EFFECTIVELY AND INTENSIVELY. IT IS HOW TO ACKNOWLEDGE DIFFERENCES. NOT NECESSARILY AGREEING WITH THE DIFFERENCE, BUT ACKNOWLEDGING AND IN THAT WAY PEOPLE CAN MOVE TOWARD A SOLUTION. AGAIN, JUST IN THE QUESTION I ASKED STEVE OR THE IDEA THAT PEOPLE MAY HAVE TO RELEARN THESE THINGS BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT REALLY BEEN CURRENT IN OUR CONVERSATIONS, SO TO SPEAK IN THE PAST THREE YEARS. FOR INSTANCE, CARL, HOW WOULD YOU RANK DOES -- CIVIL DISCORD IN SAN DIEGO ? COMPARED TO -- OF AIR TO WHAT IT USED TO BE. WHAT YOU HEAR IN THE NATIONAL AGENDA ? LET'S GIVE THE 1970S UNDER PETE WILSON, KNOWING WE COULD HAVE IMPROVED WE SLIPPED DOWN TO A C, C- FROM TIME TO TIME. THE LAST MAYORAL ELECTION THAT WAS A LOT OF NEGATIVE ADVERTISING. I GIVE THAT A D, D+. IN GENERAL DISCOURSE ON THE COUNCIL, YOU ARE IN THE SEA, THE RANGE. IT'S NOT -- C/B RATIO NOT IN THE COUNSEL DAY-TO-DAY AFFAIRS BUT THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGN TO GET THERE AND A LOT OF THE OFF COUNSEL THINGS LIKE THE CAMPAIGNS THAT NOW GO TO THE VOTERS, SPECIAL INTEREST THAT PUT MONEY INTO THE THINGS ON THE BALLOT. THERE YOU GET NASTINESS BUT DON'T GO INTO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES. WHEN YOU SAY THAT YOU GET A LOT OF NASTINESS WHEN DEALING WITH THE KINDS OF POLITICAL FIGHTING THAT GOES INTO IT, FIGHTING FOR AN ORDINANCE OR ELECTION, BUT IN THE DAY TODAY, LET'S STAY THERE FOR A MINUTE. IT'S MY IMPRESSION THAT THE PEOPLE ON THE CITY COUNCIL AND THOSE PEOPLE, CITIZENS WHO GO TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES, BEFORE THE CITY COUNCIL, USUALLY THEY KEEP PRETTY MUCH TO A CIVIL TONGUE IN THEIR HEAD. FOR THE MOST PART UNTIL YOU REMEMBER WHAT MAKER KASHMIR FILNER'S DEMISE, THERE WAS ANIMOSITY EXPRESSED AT THE COUNCIL. WHEN YOU GET TO THE OP-ED PAGES, INTO THE AM TALK RADIO, INDIVIDUAL CONVERSATIONS AND POLITICAL ADS, YOU GET THIS NEGATIVE THIS. IT DRIVES PEOPLE OUT OF THE DISCUSSION. WHAT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR THE PUBLIC SPACE HAS FEWER PEOPLE AND BECAUSE THE GENERAL NOISY HERE IS SO NEGATIVE THEY DON'T WANT TO GET INVOLVED. MOST PEOPLE I WORKED WITH IN GOVERNMENT ARE GENERALLY DECENT FOLKS TRY TO DO WELL WITHOUT A CAMERA AND MONEY AND IT DISTORTS THE PROCESS. ARE THERE GUIDELINES TO CIVIL DISCOURSE? OR IS IT JUST SOMETHING WHEN YOU SEE IT HAPPEN, STEVE ? THERE ARE IMPORTANT GUIDELINES IN TERMS OF CIVIL DISCOURSE. IT IS CLEAR WHEN INTERACTIONS INAPPROPRIATE. THERE ARE CERTAIN STANDARDS THAT ARE IMPORTANT THAT NEED TO BE ADOPTED BY THE CITY COUNCIL, BY THE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, BY INSTITUTIONS ACROSS THE COMMUNITY AND THAT IS SOMETHING WE ARE GOING TO BE WORKING TOWARDS IN THE COMING YEAR. IS TO SET THE STANDARDS OUT AND HAVE THEM ADOPTED SO PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE IN A RESPECTFUL WAY. IT IS A CONFLICT IN ITSELF THAT CAN BE PRODUCTIVE. SO IT'S A MISNOMER THINKING THAT WE ARE TRYING TO ELIMINATE CONFLICT FROM SOCIETY. IN A SENSE, CONFLICT CREATES CHANGE. IT IS THE WAY THAT PEOPLE ADDRESS CONFLICT. PEOPLE CAN HAVE DIFFERENCES OF OPINION, BUT THE KEY IS IT IS CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE AROUND THOSE DIFFERENCES SO IT CAN MOVE INDIVIDUALS TOWARDS AN ORGANIZATION, SOLUTION. CAN YOU GIVE US A SENSE, STEVE, OF WHAT SOME OF THE GUIDELINES MIGHT BE? MAYBE NUMBER ONE, AND NUMBER TWO THAT SIMPLY HAVE TO BE PRESENT IN ORDER TO HAVE THE KIND OF DIALOGUE THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT? MAC -- ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS IS ACKNOWLEDGMENT SO WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL HAS A POINT OF VIEW, WHAT WE TEACH IS THE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT THE OTHER INDIVIDUAL IS SAYING. THAT IS NOT STATING YOU ARE AGREEING WITH WHAT THEIR PERSPECTIVE IT, IT IS JUST THAT YOU ARE ACKNOWLEDGING IT SO THEY ARE HEARD. IT'S IMPORTANT THAT AS THE FIRST STANDARD, PEOPLE FEEL THEY ARE HEARD AND DIFFERENCES ARE ACKNOWLEDGED. ONCE YOU ARE ABLE TO OVERCOME THAT ISSUE, THE DIALOGUE STARTS TO FLOW FREELY. YOU WILL BRING THIS -- THESE GUIDELINES, SO TO SPEAK, TO POLITICAL -- INTO THE POLITICAL WORLD ARENA? YOU HAVE ALREADY HAD THEM IN MANY CORPORATIONS AND WORKFORCE EXPERIENCES, RIGHT? MAC WE ARE BEGINNING TO INTEGRATE THESE IDEAS INTO THE CORPORATE SECTOR, ALSO AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL AND THE K-12 LEVEL TEACHING THESE TYPE OF SKILLS. POLITICAL ARENA, EVERYONE SAYS TO BE -- STEVE, WHY ARE IN YOU WASHINGTON -- WHY ARE YOU IN WASHINGTON THAT'S WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. THE NEXT FRONTIER IS TO BRING THIS TYPE OF STANDARD, TYPES OF DIALOGUE INTO THE POLITICAL ARENA. SPEAKING, STAYING WITH THE SCHOOLS FOR A MINUTE, CARL, I KNOW THIS YEAR YOUR PARTNERING DISABILITY CONFERENCE IS PARTNERING WITH THE SAN DIEGO UNIFIED DISTRICT ON CREATING CIVILITY ON LOCAL SCHOOL CAMPUSES. TELL US ABOUT THAT. WHAT WE HAVE DEVELOPED IS CIVILITY AWARDS PROCESS SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS WE ASK STUDENTS ACROSS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT WITH CINDY MARTENS OFFICE, LINDA TROUSDALE AT THE DISTRICT TO GET HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS TO DO RIGHT, PERFORMANCE ART, ART INSTALLATIONS. THERE'S A LOT OF INTERESTING STUFF. ABOUT WHAT DOES DISABILITY MEAN TO THEM AND HOW DO THEY SEE IT ON THEIR CAMPUS AND IMPUNITY TO GET A DIALOGUE GOING AND STUDENTS IN THE CLASSROOM ON THE ISSUE OF CIVILITY. WE HAVE HUNDREDS OF ENTRIES AND THE TOP 13 STUDENTS FROM OUR PANEL OF JUDGES INVOLVING PEOPLE FROM EDUCATION WILL BE PROFILED AT THE CONFERENCE ON FRIDAY, THE CENTERPIECE OF THE CONFERENCE. AT THE END WE WILL BE GIVING OUT SCHOLARSHIPS TO THE TOP THREE WINNERS AND CONSOLATION PRIZES TO THE OTHERS FOR WE HOPE TO GROW THIS TO THE HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE DISTRICT AND EVENTUALLY TO ALL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BOTH IN DISTRICT AND BEYOND. TREMENDOUS RESPONSE FROM THE COMMUNITY FROM UT SAN DIEGO, UNITED WAY, AND CRC, CNE GO GAS AND ELECTRIC. THERE IS AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT WE NEED TO TEACH THIS EARLY BECAUSE BY THE TIME THEY GET TO OUR AGE, BAD HABITS ARE TWO WELL INGRAINED. STEVE, YOU WERE SAYING THERE IS A DEFINITE PLACE FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION. TEACHING IN SCHOOL. WHERE IS THAT? WHERE DO YOU ACTUALLY PROMOTE THAT KIND OF EDUCATION? MAC -- WHAT'S UNIQUE AT THE SCHOOL SYSTEM TODAY IS THAT THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE MOVING AWAY FROM ZERO TOLERANCE TO A MORE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE APPROACH. AS AN ORGANIZATION, WE ARE ABLE TO HOLD RESTORATIVE MEDIATION OFFICES WITH STUDENTS WHO HAVE COMMITTED SOME TYPE OF OFFENSE. IN THE PAST, ZERO TOLERANCE MEANT THESE STUDENTS WOULD BE SUSPENDED OR EXPELLED. ONCE THEY'RE OUT OF THE SCHOOL SYSTEM THEY REALLY ARE ON A SIMPLY SLOPE. IN AN PIPELINE OFTEN INTO THE PRISON SYSTEM AND IT IMPACTS DISPROPORTIONATELY YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS OF COLOR. AND SO NOW THE SCHOOL IS OPENED TO THE IDEA OF TRYING TO MEDIATE DIFFERENCES, HOLDING CONVERSES WITH THE VICTIM, THE OFFENDER, THE SCHOOLTEACHERS, MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY IF WE ARE ABLE TO COME TO A RESOLUTION, THE STUDENTS CAN BE -- CAN REMAIN IN SCHOOL AND THAT IS WHAT IS SO CRITICAL AND THESE ARE MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES THAT THEY WILL CARRY ON WELL INTO COLLEGE AND INTO THEIR PROFESSIONAL LIFE. CRAWL, IT REMINDS ME THERE'S AN APP THAT HAS BEEN MAKING NEWS, MOST BAD NEWS, BURN BOOK. IT IS WHERE PEOPLE CAN SAY THE MOST TERRIBLE THINGS ABOUT KIDS THEY ARE GOING TO SCHOOL WITH. IT IS ON THIS APP AND EVERYBODY CAN READ IT. HOW DO YOU COUNTERACT SOMETHING LIKE THAT ? WE HAVE SEEN THAT DEVELOPING IN OUR CULTURE ONE MY GENERATION, THE ME GENERATION, WE WERE THE ME GENERATION. THE FOCUS THAT WE DESERVE WHAT WE GOT WHEN WE ARE DEPENDENT ON EACH OTHER. THAT IS PUSHED DOWN TO KIDS LACKING ROLE MODELS ABOVE THEM. THEY FEEL -- FILLED AEROSPACE AND LOWER THE FLIES QUICKLY PICK SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BRING OUT THE BEST AND THE WORST IN US. WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS MY MODEL I USE IS RECYCLING. ONCE UPON A TIME, YOU THROUGH YOUR TRASH WHEREVER. NOW I ASKED MY STUDENTS HOW DO YOU FEEL IF YOU DON'T PUT YOUR SELF THAT STUFF IN THE RIGHT RECYCLING BIN ? THEY FEEL THEY GLEAN OFFICERS AND THEY HAVE TO DO IT. WE HAVE TO INSTILL THE SENSE THAT TREATING EACH OTHER WITH RESPECT IS SOMETHING YOU DO FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS. IF YOU DON'T DO IT, YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD BECAUSE IT IS HURTING EVERYBODY INVOLVED. PROGRAMS LIKE WHAT STEVE IS WORKING ON, OUR ATTEMPT TO START THIS DIALOGUE ARE THE BEGINNING BUT IT'S A ROCK TO MOVE UP TO MOVE THE STEEP HILL. THE NATIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER RECENTLY HONORED SAN DIEGO UNIFIED CINDY MARTIN AND UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESIDENT. JANET MADONNA DASHED JANET NAPOLITANO WITH PEACEMAKER AWARD'S. WHY DO INDIVIDUALS DESERVE THESE AWARDS ? SINCE THE THAT CINDY WAS A LEADER WITH REGARD TO MOVING THE SCHOOL SYSTEM FROM ZERO TOLERANCE TO MORE OF A RESTORATIVE OPEN APPROACH. WITH REGARD TO JANET NAPOLITANO, SHE HAS BEEN A LEADER THROUGHOUT HER CAREER FROM HOMELAND SECURITY NOW AS PRESIDENT OF THE UC SYSTEM. WHAT SHE HAS DONE AT THE UC SYSTEM HAS FOCUSED -- SHE HAS BEEN FOCUSING ON LB GT ISSUES, SHE HAS BEEN FOCUSING ON LOWER INCOME STUDENTS AND TRYING TO CREATE A NON-DOCUMENTED STUDENTS, CREATING A MORE DIVERSE CAMPUS TO BE MORE INCLUSIVE AND WITH THIS LEADERSHIP, WE HAVE GIVEN HER THE PEACEMAKER AWARD. CARL, I DON'T WANT TO SAY GOODBYE TO YOU BEFORE I GET YOUR TAKE ON WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON IN SAN DIEGO OVER THE DEBATE WORD NEW CHARGES -- CHARGER STADIUM. ARE YOU CHECKING OUT THE DISCOURSE? ARE YOU SAYING HOW THIS IS INFLAMING PASSIONS AND HOW PEOPLE ARE RESPONDING TO THAT ? WHEN IT COMES TO THE BASIC DISCUSSION, IS -- IT HAS NOT BEEN UNCIVIL, BUT UNCOMMUNICATIVE. IT'S LIKE MARRIAGE EVERYWHERE ONE COUPLE IS CHECKING OUT. OVER THE YEARS, OUR PROCESS IS NOT GOOD DEALING WITH WICKED ISSUES. IS IT TOO EARLY TO TALK ABOUT 2016? WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, ALL OF THE ELECTIONS COMING UP IN 2016 AND NEXT YEAR, ARE YOU SORT OF STEALING YOURSELF FROM THAT ? 2016 WAS CALLED IN 2012 ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA CALLED. WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS NASTY AND 2014 OR 2012, YOU HAVEN'T SEEN ANYTHING YET BECAUSE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY SPENT OVERWHELMINGLY ON NEGATIVE ADS IS GOING TO CURL PEOPLE'S HAIR. WHAT IT WILL DO IS DRIVE PARTICIPATION WAY DOWN UNLESS YOU START A BACKLASH TO TELL PEOPLE, THIS IS SIMPLY NOT ACCEPTABLE. YOU NEED TO STOP DOING THIS OR WE WILL PUNISH YOU AT THE POLLS. WHAT DO YOU HOPE WILL COME OUT OF THIS CONFERENCE ? I HOPE THE NEXT STEP BESIDES EXPANDING PROGRAMS TO STUDENTS, EDUCATION IS THE BE-ALL AND END-ALL FOR THE FUTURE IS TO START TO CREATE AN AWARENESS AND GET DIALOGUE GOING BETWEEN POLITICIANS AND STUDENT NOMINEES WITH EXPLAIN WHY THEY ARE DOING WHAT THEY ARE DOING. AND WHAT WILL YOU DO TO CHANGE A? WE NEED TO GET THE POLITICAL CLASS IN SAN DIEGO SO THERE IS A BETTER, HIGHER, NOBLE CALLING INTO POLITICS THAN TO PLAY THE DIRTY GAME OF NEGATIVE ADVERTISING. THE FOURTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON RESTORING CIVILITY TO CIVIL DIALOGUE HAPPENS FRIDAY AT THE JOAN CRAWLED IS TO DO FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO IT IS FREE AND REGISTRATION INFORMATION AT KPBS.ORG. I HAVE BEEN SPEAKING WITH CARL LUNA, MODERATOR OF THE CIVILITY CONFERENCE AND KEYNOTE SPEAKER, STEVEN DINKIN OF THE NATIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER. GENERALLY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. THANK YOU.

The annual civility conference in San Diego is expanding its sights.

In the past, the conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue has concentrated on the nasty outbursts and innuendos of political rhetoric.

But now in its fourth year, the discussion will include how kids learn to express themselves in the first place, by placing an emphasis on creating civil conversations in the classroom.
It takes place Friday.

Carl Luna, a political science professor at Mesa College, will moderate the conference with keynote speaker Steven Dinkin, president of the National Conflict Resolution Center.

Luna said the key to civility is respect.

“As soon as respect breaks down the whole social context breaks down,” Luna told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. “That’s the path we really (have) been slipping down that we need to reverse.”

Luna uses the tenure of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as an example.

“There was a lot of animosity,” he said. “It drives a lot of people right out of the discussion because the general noise is just so negative they don’t want to get involved.”

Dinkin, who said he will offer tips on how to governments can create a civil dialogue, said people need to acknowledge differences.

“I think one of the first steps is acknowledgment — the need to acknowledge what the individual is saying,” Dinkin said. “It’s not saying you agree with it. It’s that you acknowledge it.”

The conference is free and will take place at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at 5998 Alcalá Park in San Diego.

For more information, go to the conference's website.