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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Shelly O’Quinn: Learn how to be a bridge during Curious Conversations with Erin Jones

Shelly O’Quinn CEO


Black lives matter … All lives matter.

Masks infringe on my freedom … Everyone should be vaccinated and masked.

More gun control … The Second Amendment.

Israel … Palestine.

Us versus them. This versus that.

I stand in the middle … a bridge of sorts.

Erin Jones, author, Bridges to Heal US

We live in a divided world. Each of us entrenched in our own lives, thoughts, and opinions, making enemies of our neighbors because we disagree with their bumper sticker, yet we don’t even know their names.

Last month, in the first selection of our Curious Conversations Book Club series, we invited our community to read Monica Guzman’s book “I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times.” We encouraged each other to get curious, rather than contentious, with people and perspectives on which we disagree.

This month, we challenge our community to bring the power of fearless curiosity to address a topic that often stirs feelings of discomfort, defensiveness, and denial: Racial Healing.

In her book “Bridges to Heal US: Stories and Strategies for Racial Healing,” Erin Jones shares her own story as a biracial child born in Minnesota. Adopted by white educator parents, she was raised in the Netherlands and attended the prestigious American School of the Hague, where her parents were teachers. She returned to the U.S. for college at a time when there were still signs identifying which establishments were not welcoming to Black patrons. She has lived her life in the middle, a bridge between multiple world experiences, and has witnessed the harm that is caused when we do not talk about race.

“I believe the work of talking about race and justice is for everyone, of every color and every background. This work is for you, whoever you are. This work is for me. The work is for US; it is necessary for our healing,” Jones says.

Like Guzman, Jones approaches her work by bringing people together, not taking sides. She shares stories and recommends strategies that are surprisingly simple, yet profoundly deep. She helps readers develop the skills and knowledge necessary to both be and build bridges for healing around issues of race and justice. Key practices she describes in her book include expressing gratitude, creating brave spaces, and “grounding-in” – a process of centering ourselves and focusing on our mental well-being in difficult encounters.

At Innovia, we believe that despite our differences, we are better together. We are proud to work in partnership with Northwest Passages to bring Guzman and Jones to Spokane on May 31 at the Bing Theater. We invite you to join us for this conversation with two dynamic authors as they share their insights for how we can create brave spaces for fearlessly curious conversations to heal our deeply divided world. This event will be simulcast in Sandpoint, Ritzville, and Moscow. For information, visit or call (509) 624-2606.