CLINTON - The ability to listen to differing opinions and share ideas in a nonconfrontational way will be the focus of a workshop Jan. 21 in Clinton.
The day-long event will be conducted by Anna Sandidge, a Quaker from St. Louis, who has worked with the reconciliation effort in Burundi, Africa.
The Coalition for Non-Violent Communities is a sponsor of the workshop set for 8:30 a.m. at St. John's Parish Hall.
Clinton was chosen as a site for the session because of the deaths of three young children in Clinton Lake in September 2003 and the trauma suffered by residents and family members as a result said the Rev. Tom Shea of St. Patrick's Church of Merna in Bloomington, spokesman for the coalition.
The children's mother, Amanda Hamm, and her former boyfriend, Maurice LaGrone Jr., were charged with first-degree murder in their deaths.
"Mostly we are into conditional listening. We listen only on the condition that our personal comfort zone is maintained," said Shea.
"We want to hear the words and emotions that mirror ourselves. Whenever our personal zone is threatened, we tend to get defensive and stop hearing what is said. It might even lead to violence. We think there are alternatives and want to invite people to explore this uncharted territory," said Shea.
Seating is limited. Deadline for registration is Jan. 13. There is a $5 participation fee.
The state has announced its intention to seek the death penalty in the LaGrone and Hamm cases.
The death penalty will not be the focus of the workshop. Organizers hope participants will develop skills to help them listen to the opinions of others and engage in a dialogue that allows differences to be heard without confrontation.
A town meeting on the death penalty is scheduled Feb. 5 in Clinton.
The workshop and town hall meeting are open to residents of Clinton and neighboring communities.
Reservations for the Jan. 21 meeting may be made by calling (217) 935-3921.