Jul 11, 2023

positive gossipers

Amanda Ripley:

[School superintendent] Marlon Styles did the opposite of what most leaders do in conflict: he asked for help. He called on local ministers and a group of well-informed community members, whom he called his “positive gossipers,” to speak up, as Courtney E. Martin describes in the Christian Science Monitor. The positive gossipers showed up to eight school board meetings in a row — offering their own insights, balancing out the fear and vitriol, and reminding everyone what it looks like to love thy neighbor. “They told little, textured stories of community. They told jokes. They quoted Scripture,” Martin writes.

People still disagreed, of course, as they should. But the conflict was productive, instead of toxic. The lesson for the rest of us? “Every school community has a quiet majority,” Styles said. “Authentically and genuinely reach out to them.”