The Art of Dialogue: Writing about Wisconsin

I joined E. Victoria Flynn today for a Write In, in support of what’s happening in Wisconsin. I’m writing from home; she’s writing from the Rotunda.


Dialogue. noun. An exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue…with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.

I’ve never done well in debates. When I was younger, I swung from quiet (fuming) protests to shouts, muted only by a veil of tears. I am still learning the art of dialogue, of knowing when to listen and when to speak.


I work in an old building with amazing acoustics. Sounds reverberate off plaster walls, high ceilings, the marble floor. I can recognize the click of a colleague’s heels before she rounds the bend in the hallway, and my words echo even when I whisper to a friend on my cell phone. The silence is easily broken, and noises are deciphered and dismissed with indifference.

But last week, one collection of sounds shook me from my office chair: drums, horns, and voices chanting in unison. They were one floor up, but their rhythm and energy preceded them. I shut down my email, grabbed my purse, and ran to the door in time to catch a glimpse of them. A band of five carried a banner and instruments, and they stormed the hallways.

They tried to rouse the masses.

So, I followed.

In their wake, I felt the heat of their fire.

Then, I – the writer, the quiet observer who stands on the fringe most days because conflict frightens me – couldn’t ignore what was happening.


He works in an old building with amazing acoustics. Tens of thousands of faces, voices and hearts huddle together, sending their message and their energy across the state, throughout the nation.

Protesters in the Rotunda via

This is not about cuts in benefits. This is not about “balancing the budget.” This is about a swift move to pull the rug out from under the middle class, and most Americans do not support such a move.


Still, he is not listening.

But they are.

Democratic Senators walk out, image via

And, I am.

And, no matter which side you’re on, you can’t ignore what’s happening.

Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.



7 responses to “The Art of Dialogue: Writing about Wisconsin

  1. I fear what comes next for our state. Thanks for taking the time to observe and listen, then write.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Art of Dialogue: Writing about Wisconsin | Writing Under Pressure --

  3. I have withheld comments on other posts on this subject. Yours somehow draws me into the fray. Like you, I hate conflict; but I watch and listen. I don’t claim to have all wisdom, especially in this area, but my heart goes out to peoples being stripped of their longstanding rights. Blessings to you, Christi…

  4. Thank you so much for doing this with me, Christi. You’re post is beautiful. Especially the ending, so strong and, as so many of us are feeling this morning, somber. I wrote with you at midnight and I wrote as the news was being drawn. I’m afraid my emotions took my words away, but yours have remained true.

    • Victoria,

      I can only imagine the emotions that traveled throughout the Rotunda last night. Your presence there was so important, and I know that whatever you say about the night will be exactly what you’re meant to say. *hugs*

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