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   League of Women 
 Voters of Berrien 
 & Cass Counties


President's Message


"Huh?" That, according to Alan Alda, is what he wanted to title his most recent book. When editors put the kibosh on that, he chose instead If I Understood You Would I Have This Look on my Face? That's still pretty descriptive of the book's subject: the difficulty of communicating complex ideas in a way that people can understand.

It's hard to stroll past a book with such an intriguing title without taking a look. That happened to me again recently with I'm Right and You're an Idiot by James Hoggan. Perhaps it's the subtitle that really caught my attention: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up. Alan Alda's subtitle is pretty good, too: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating.

The context for both of these books is science. Alda sees a parallel between communication skills he needed as host of science programs on PBS and those he had honed as a comedian. Central to both, he says, is empathy. If we want someone to understand what we are saying, he argues, we first must establish a connection with that person.

Hoggan developed his ideas when trying to figure out how to promote understanding of climate change so that problems can be addressed before it is too late. He observed that advocacy can polarize and lead to gridlock--just the opposite of what is needed to address a subject of great urgency. He explores ways to change the style of public communication in order to improve awareness and understanding.

Daily--indeed, many times a day--we are exposed to information so complex that we despair of even trying to understand it or so offensive we try to ignore it. But those responses are just cop-outs, aren't they? As responsible citizens, we have an obligation to grapple with complex information if it has impact on public policy and to confront and challenge assaults on democratic principles. But it's hard work. We need to figure out how to do it better.

LWVBCC can play an important role in moving dialogue along. We are committed to nonpartisanship and to active participation in matters of public policy. We can provide an arena for creative, respectful efforts to identify and address issues of concern. Since we can, we should. Let's.
-- Marilyn  
Sept. 13 Luncheon:
Investigation of Invasive Species

Japanese  knotweed, a non-native plant that can grow up to 10 feet t all, will be  the subject of our September 13 noon luncheon at Coach's  Bar & Grill, 2528  Glenlord Road in Stevensville (just west of Red Arrow Highway).

Our speaker will be Rubia Jasinevicius, a member of the Board of the International Friendship Gardens in Michigan City who is an expert on this invasive plant. She will focus on how to recognize the plant, the threat it poses, and efforts to control it. There will be an opportunity for questions at the conclusion of her talk.

This is a subject of current interest in our area. A front-page story in the August 31 Herald-Palladium reported an infestation of Japanese knotweed along Willow Creek in Benton Township that is causing significant erosion, with potential impact on a waterway that leads to the St. Joseph River and then into Lake Michigan. 

If you plan to attend, please contact Board Member Donna Dutton by September 6 either by email at donnadutton95@yahoo.com or by calling her at 269-469- 9763. We hope you can make it.
Enough Already!  Why Bother?
Thank you and please. Thanks if you have completed and returned your  membership survey; please if you haven't done so yet.
We know: you probably are sick and tired of being asked to complete a survey  every time you get your oil changed or buy a new shirt or order a milk shake. Enough  already! Why bother? No one pays any attention to surveys anyhow, and they are just  a big waste of time, you say.
But not this time. This one is different. We really want-and need!-to know  what draws the interest of LWVBCC members. Members' responses to the survey will  be the cornerstone of the architecture for programs in the coming year or two.
We are grateful for every response we have received in the mail. Please be  assured that we are reading them and paying attention. Thank you.
But we need more. If you have not yet completed and mailed your survey,  please do so now. If you did not receive the survey or have misplaced it, just let us  know, and we will send you another one. You can do that by sending an email to
There: that's our "please"-at least for now. But thanks-again and again-for  each completed survey we have received and each one we will receive after you read  and think about this message.
-- Your Board  
Special Event!
Judge Charles LaSata 
October 5 
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

If you haven't already marked your calendar, please do so now:  Judge Charles LaSata, who has been a Berrien County Circuit Court Judge for the past 13 years, will be speaking to us at Berrien RESA, Berrien Springs. His topic is "Specialty Courts in Berrien County."

Judge LaSata has overseen the four special courts that serve this county including "Swift and Sure" and a specialized domestic violence court. 

To learn about these two and the others over which he presides, join us.
Another Special Event!
Tuesday, November 14, "This Changes Everything;" documentary.

Vickers Theater, Three Oaks, doors open at 6:00.

Expect to be disturbed, enlightened, challenged.

More information to follow in the October newsletter.
Book Group

The next meeting of the LWVBCC book group is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Monday, October 9, at Emelie Shroder's home. Two books have been selected for discussion: "Climate of Hope" by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, and "Strangers in Their Own Land" by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
      Both books, to a greater and lesser extent, offer insights on climate change.  The emphasis, though, is quite different.  Climate is at the heart of Bloomberg and Pope's book, as they describe the issue, highlight its seriousness, and offer creative ways to address it.  Hochschild, on the other hand, tells of her experience with people in Louisiana's bayou country whose livelihoods and way of life have been severely impacted by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident.
      Participants are encouraged to read either or both of these books, or another of their choice dealing with related topics.
      Then please call Emelie to let her know you will be attending.  Her telephone number is 269-266-7299.
Committee Coordinators
Energy and the Environment : Chris Zilke
Health and Social Services: Dorothy Parker
Public Education: Linda Cheek & Jane Raymond
Voter Services : Mike McCaffrey & John Ripley
Budget and Finance: Mike McCaffrey, John Ripley, Chris Zilke
Membership: Marilyn Klawiter & Mike McCaffrey
Nominating: Karen Ristau
Special Events: Donna Dutton & Chris Zilke

Non-Partisan Policy
The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elected office, or any group that supports candidates. As individuals, though, but not as representatives of the League, members are encouraged to participate in political activity and to run for office.  Our non-partisan policy does require two Board members - the President and the Voter Service Chair - to totally abstain from partisan political activity.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Tuesday, September 12
League Board Meeting
1:00 p.m.
Location: Lincoln Township Library, 2099 W John Beers Rd, Stevensville, MI 49127
Members are welcome to attend Board meetings.
Wednesday, September 13
League Luncheon
12:00 p.m. 
Coach's Restaurant
Japanese Knotweed, and other "Invasive Species." A presentation by Rubia Jasinevicius.
Thursday, Oct. 5
6:30 p.m.
Presentation from Judge Charles LaSata on Berrien "Swift and Sure" program. At  Berrien RESA in Berrien Springs.
Monday, Oct. 9
League Book Group
10:00 a.m.
Meet at Emelie Shroder's home. Call to let her know you are attending: 269-266-7299 by Saturday 10/7.
Tuesday, November 14
"This Changes Everything;" documentary.
Vickers Theater, Three Oaks, doors open at 6:00. 

Board of Directors
Marilyn Klawiter, President
Dorothy Parker, Vice President
Karen Ristau,  Secretary
John Ripley, Treasurer
Donna Dutton
Michael McCaffrey
Linda Cheek
Jane Raymond
Christiana Zilke

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The League:  Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!
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The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Interested in joining the League?  Go to our website or 
email our Membership Chair  Donna Dutton