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Hook and Bullet Club

Ely Echo - Staff Photo -
Melinda Voss speaks to the Ely Alliance of Braver Angels at the Ely Senior Center.

by Nick Wognum

As co-chair of the new Ely Alliance of Braver Angels I’ve been impressed with the direction we are heading. We’ve only had two meetings but each one has been productive and there appears to be a growing interest to see if our section of a polarized country can learn to get along with the other side.

We had a guest speaker, Melinda Voss, who led us in a group workshop on Jan. 18 at the Ely Senior Center. Voss, who worked 26 years as a reporter in Des Moines, IA, did a nice job of explaining some Braver Angels principles.

Here’s a few when you are having a conversation with someone who doesn’t share your viewpoints:

• Listen and be ready to paraphrase what other person is saying;

• Try to determine what is the value and concerns of the other person;

• Look for something to agree with.

Three good points along with “try adding a little humor by poking fun at yourself.”

Here’s more from the workshop: Many of us don’t understand how someone came to that view so we make up ideas on why someone feels a certain way. Braver Angels can offer opportunities to discuss those things. We need to start talking to people more. There’s more common ground out there than you think.

I liked these as well:

• Practice being curious;

• Be willing to be humble

• Connect first before expressing your viewpoint so they feel that they were heard

• Acknowledge by expressing their position - acknowledging is magic. But it takes practice to get your mind trained to do that.

Finally, here’s something to keep in mind before you offer your point of view:

Listen. Acknowledge. Pivot. Perspective.

Listening may seem like the easiest part but I would say it’s one of the hardest skills to master. Listen to understand, not reload.

Acknowledging is just that, letting the other person know you heard what they said.

Pivoting is as simple as before you speak saying, “Can I offer you my viewpoints on this?”

Offer your perspective, rather than the position that “they’re wrong.” Use I statements versus stating facts.

If you haven’t been able to check out the Ely Braver Angels meetings, we have another one scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ely Senior Center. We’re also looking to be able to have people participate (or just listen in) via Zoom. Stay tuned!

* * * * * * *

Pivoting to another topic (see what I did there?), the 2024 Fun Run is nearly upon us. While it may be known as a snowmobile event, most people go by car or truck.

The popular winter event takes place next Saturday, Feb. 3 at Grand Ely Lodge, Fish Tales Tavern in Babbitt and Good Ol Days in Tower with the wrap-up party that night at Fortune Bay.

Jim Zupancich and a crew of volunteers have been busy beavers putting together hundreds of prize packages to give away thanks to the generous donations of businesses in Ely, Babbitt and Tower.

The $25 entry fee is still in place but ends on Wednesday. You can fill out a registration form at Zup’s, Blomberg’s or at the Ely Echo.

You can also register online at

Monies raised from this event go back into the snowmobile trails in our area, which are also largely ATV trails as well.  See you on Saturday!

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