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Let's Talk About It: Finding Common Concerns 

click to enlarge President-elect Donald Trump supporter Chris LeRoy, right, explains his position to anti-Trump demonstrator Leon Stewart. LeRoy came to the Gazebo to counter protest a demonstration against Trump. Stewart, an HSU student, said after their encounter, "It makes me cry as a grown man the way this country is going."

Mark McKenna

President-elect Donald Trump supporter Chris LeRoy, right, explains his position to anti-Trump demonstrator Leon Stewart. LeRoy came to the Gazebo to counter protest a demonstration against Trump. Stewart, an HSU student, said after their encounter, "It makes me cry as a grown man the way this country is going."

Editor's note: This is one in a series of opinion pieces solicited by the Journal. In the immediate aftermath of Nov. 8, it became very clear that people need safe spaces to discuss their ideas and feelings, and generally process what was the ugliest and most vitriolic presidential contest in generations. To that end, we reached out to a variety of community stakeholders, people who we felt could help starts this community dialogue. The response was overwhelming, and a full list of submissions complete with links can be found at the bottom of this post. We hope you'll also join the conversation by commenting online, writing letters to the editor and talking to each other.

Thanks to the North Coast Journal for asking several of us for op-eds after the presidential election. Given the divisiveness that has characterized our national politics for several years now, it seems clear to me that we need to develop ways of working with each other regardless of our political leanings. We should recognize the importance of sitting down across political, ethnic, gender, educational and other perspectives and simply talking to each other to explain what our priorities are, and how we justify them. We simply need to understand each other, and to see if we have any common concerns that we can work together to address.

One of the issues that attracted my attention is the plight of homeless folks in our region. So much of life is a matter of luck, and some of us are very unlucky. Betty Chinn and her foundation (http://bettychinn.org/Day-Center/) have done much to help many people and have benefitted from the cooperation of Humboldt County and its cities, especially Eureka.

A wonderful example of cooperation and collaboration as a way to assist the homeless is the recent event that was organized by the League of Women Voters of Humboldt County and the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This opportunity brought together our district attorney, probation officer, police chiefs, a county mental health person and a public defender to talk about recognizing the importance of treating mental illness rather than simply putting persons in an expensive jail cell that just delays further illegal behaviors. We all want to be safe, we all want our governments to be efficient and most us want people to be treated fairly.

As a scientist and educator, I worry about the lack of support for our educational institutions in many states. Only California and Oregon have recently increased funding for education. Funding for 23 states has not changed since 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/opinion/schoolchildren-left-behind.html). One of the things that education does for people is help them learn how to think critically and examine the perspectives they have inherited as they developed. It is clear that a good education is an excellent way to adjust to the rapidly changing economic status of our country. California has become an example for other states in our support for education and the consequences for our economy. One of the things we need to continue to do in Humboldt County is to work together to support our educational opportunities across the board. The Decade of Difference initiative developed by the Humboldt County Office of Education (http://www.decadeofdifference.org/community.php) is an excellent way to help young students in first and second grade develop the reading and math skills they need for a happy and successful life.

Let's move beyond the recent ugliness of politics and work together to support a community that helps all, but especially our children who will inherit the future. One way to do this is to support and work with a new local organization such as Next Generation Eureka (http://www.nextgeneureka.org/) that has attracted young people who are also working with the local League of Women Voters (LWVHC). If you are concerned about our nation's political situation, become a member of LWVHC (http://www.lwvhc.org/) and help educate local citizens about local, statewide and national politics. The League does not support political parties or candidates. It is an excellent way to have good conversations with others who are concerned about our future. Thanks for caring about our region and our country. We can work together to make positive change.

Rollin Richmond is president of the Humboldt County League of Women Voters and former president of Humboldt State University.

Submissions from NAACP of Eureka First Vice President Liz Smith, local attorney and U.S. Army reservist Allan Dollison, North Coast People's Alliance Steering Committee Member Tamara McFarland, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills, Humboldt County Central Democratic Committee Chair Bob Service, local programmer and freelance writer Mitch Trachtenberg, Humboldt County Green Party Chair Dana Silvernale, Rabbi Naomi Steinberg, Humboldt State University assistant professor of history Leena Dallesheh, Friends of the Eel River Executive Director Scott Greacen and League of Women Voters Humboldt County President Rollin Richmond can be found by clicking their names.

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Rollin Richmond

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