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Need Talking Points for Thanksgiving? The Sierra Club Has You Covered

Only 29% of Americans attending a Thanksgiving dinner expected politics to be discussed, according to a 2017 Huffington Post survey. (MaggiePoo/Pixabay)
Only 29% of Americans attending a Thanksgiving dinner expected politics to be discussed, according to a 2017 Huffington Post survey. (MaggiePoo/Pixabay)
November 27, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It's that time of year when the abundance of news stories can either prompt or discourage difficult discussions over the holiday dinner table. But if you're willing to take the plunge on some tough but important environmental topics, the Sierra Club says it has your back.

Heather Moyer, a writer and editor for the environmental advocacy group, has created a "Holiday Dinner Table Conversation Guide" to help steer the conversation in some different directions - although she admitted they're not light topics.

"A lot of us come from families that have very different political viewpoints, and we all have those hard conversations," she said. "And so, we just decided to make one mostly about environmental issues – talking about clean energy or coal, or environmental justice, those sorts of things."

The Sierra Club has posted a similar guide six times. This year, it includes fresh positions regarding the Green New Deal, forced climate migration and the U.S.-Mexico border wall as possible conversation options. A 2017 Huffington Post survey showed that just 29% of Americans attending a Thanksgiving dinner expected politics to be discussed.

The Sierra Club has taken a public stance on multiple environmental issues. Moyer said the Conversation Guide explains the issues and why it's important to talk about them.

"I think people find it useful to realize that we all are dealing with family and friends who have different viewpoints and people like having those things to look back at," she said. "I think any time you get help explaining something that might be kind of considered a really large and overwhelming issue, that people appreciate that sort of thing."

When a conversation deteriorates, family therapists say it's important to hear someone out. However, that can be tough, with research showing that only 10% of people listen effectively. Instead, it's more likely that a person's mind is busy with other thoughts or already formulating a reply.

The Conversation Guide is online at sierraclub.org, and the survey is at huffpost.com.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM