Summer Guide: Ilsley helps us find reasons to be cheerful this summer

MIDDLEBURY — It’s nearly impossible to turn on the news, or any social media, for that matter, and not see stories about we hopelessly divided. That all over the world our rifts are so entrenched, they can never be reconciled. 

Ilsley Public Library has come up with a way to counter that. This summer they will host the “Reasons to be Cheerful” series Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. from July 11 to Aug. 29. The series is based on the Reasons to Be Cheerful project, which explores the abundant evidence that human beings have far greater ability and desire to overcome their divisions than we realize.

Using articles from this organization’s project, “We Are Not Divided,” participants will gather to discuss how we can all learn from one another to bridge our seemingly “unbridgeable divide.”

Anyone interested can stop into the library to pick up each week’s article or read it online at

The list of topics includes:

Taiwan’s crowdsourced democracy. Tuesday, July 11. How hackers taught the government to embrace division-resistant politics.

The unlikely friendship that helped legalize same-sex marriage in Ireland. Tuesday, July 18. In Ireland 100 private citizens advise parliament on policy.  Two of them changed each other’s lives – and perhaps their country’s constitution.

Their love knows no borders. Tuesday, July 25. Along a ditch that separates the US from Canada, a very 2020 romance overcame a pandemic.

• The idea that still unites us. Tuesday, Aug. 1. A rowdy opinionated nation of 330 million requires a special kind of bond. Could Aristotle’s concept of Civic Friendship be the answer?

• You cannot use force to change minds. Tuesday, Aug. 8. She fought a brutal ritual with love and changed a culture.

• In this Connecticut prison, the guards double as mentors. Tuesday, Aug. 15. What happens when incarcerated people see a correctional officer not as an overlord, but as someone who can help?

• How loggers helped environmentalists save a spectacular Canadian rainforest. Tuesday, Aug. 22. Spanning 16 million acres of wild Pacific coast, the Great Bear Rainforest is a magical place. The partnership that saved it is just as unique.

• Inside the student-led movement to depolarize college. Tuesday, Aug. 29. Beyond the ideological brawls and anti-speaker protests, is a push to make disagreement on campus cool again.

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