An engaged and impassioned community strengthens our democracy, but leading effective community engagement meetings has become increasingly difficult, and when derailed, can lead to chaos. Our highly polarized politics contributes to a “win-lose” mentality, limited resources heighten the stakes, and a frayed trust makes tackling public issues fraught. Designing and facilitating effective community meetings requires coolness, clarity, courage and skill, as well as a clear and effective meeting structure. This workshop applies Essential Partners’ time-tested dialogue work to community engagement settings, helping participants hold constructive public conversations. Learning Objectives: Achieve clarity of purposes and expectations for a meeting. Understand and practice preparation and design for more impactful meetings. Learn processes for establishing constructive group norms. Understand how to construct “safe-enough” space for open-hearted engagement across the aisle and beyond. Develop confidence in your ability to facilitate through challenging moments. Results: As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped to: Design an environment for the productive discussion of divisive community problems. Anticipate and plan for possible problems in order to avoid disruption during the meeting. Facilitate through challenging moments with more confidence Diffuse “us” vs. “them” dynamics by establishing a baseline of mutual understanding. Who might participate: Non-profit or institutional leaders seeking to establish constructive working relationships with between their organizations and surrounding community. City officials or legislative aides looking for more effective ways to plan and facilitate community meetings for sharing information and getting the public’s input. Facilitators wanting to refine their skillsets in order to meet the heightened emotions, and ideological differences that can emerge when the public is engaged. Advocates planning a community dialogue on a public issue.