There has been a lot said these past few months here in Iowa–about the election, the Flood, the national anthem–no shortage of hot topics to pick from in 2016.

In the era of Twitter handles, blogs & Snap stories, careful rhetoric & thoughtful conversation can sometimes be neglected in favor of negativity, put downs & ignorance.

Lately, I’ve made a conscious effort to find the opposite–positive, constructive & engaging dialogue that takes place all around us here in Cedar Rapids.

Last month was America Reads Day at area schools, where community volunteers spent part of their day sharing their favorite story with students.  Yours truly was a dynamite Grant Dragon in our annual puppet show, if I do say so myself!

I recently attended  the Corridor Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 event, where awardees were given only 3 words to work with in their acceptance speeches–they were witty, inspirational, & gracious.  It was refreshing to hear how simple sentiments can be so powerful.

The Kids On Course staff spent two days last week at a training that detailed effective strategies to use while engaging with students in stressful situations.  Not only did we come away with a better idea of what to say (and what NOT to say), but also how kids react to sarcasm, inflection, & volume.

So while today marks the end of political attack ads (at least for the time being), I challenge each & every one of you to practice having meaningful conversations, to choose your words wisely, & recognize and celebrate the good in others.

“Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” -Buddha