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Eric's Heroes: One woman's efforts to bridge a divide with conversation

Each week, Cecile Andrews arranges for people to do something that seems curiously quaint and old-fashioned. They gather, they sit down and they talk. Imagine that. (KOMO News)

On a drizzly Monday at a small, local bookstore and coffee shop called the "Couth Buzzard," they stream in one by one.

Inside the Phinney Ridge store, what transpires is nothing less than the perpetual, essential re-shaping and transformation of America.

Each week, Cecile Andrews arranges for people to do something that seems curiously quaint and old-fashioned. They gather, they sit down and they talk. Imagine that.

"I mean our purpose in life is to blossom and bloom and this is a place where people can come and do that and so you feel good," Cecile said.

They talk about drugs and news makers like James Comey. The conversations are about anything and everything.

"And so this is what I particularly love to do, bring people together to talk," Cecile said. "Democracy needs it obviously. Democracy needs deliberation, but we also need it for ourselves because everyone needs social contact."

Most of them are left-leaning...this is Seattle, after all.

But liberal or conservative isn't the point. Conversation, discourse and enrichment...that's the point.

Cecile's husband, Paul, says that bringing people together is her nature.

"In our society, we are so one-step removed right now with the phones and the computers and television and we don't have that one-to-one relationship as much, and here you get that back," Paul said.

The other day they discussed truth and the media.

"You can't have a democracy without truth. How do we even talk about it?" Cecile said.

This humble little meeting in a bookshop has touched a chord. It grew so big that Cecile had to start a second, smaller group.

After an hour or so, they wrap it up and head their separate ways. And maybe Cecile is on to something...

Talking face-to-face, a civil exchanging of ideas...feels like something from our past.

But maybe it can also be our future.

Maybe the future re-shaping and transformation of America begins at the Couth Buzzard in Phinney Ridge.

Editor's Note: "Eric's Heroes" is a weekly series airing every Wednesday on KOMO News in the 6 p.m. newscast. If you have a good story about a good person doing good things for the right reasons, share it with Eric by sending an email to heroes@komonews.com.



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