9th Annual Civil Discourse Symposium

Sharing Our Stories: Moving from Division to Hope

November 7-9, 2022

The Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse hosted the 9th annual civil discourse symposium, Sharing Our Stories: Moving from Division to Hope. This three-day event culminated with an interactive keynote address on Wednesday, November 9 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. in the Eberhard Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Activities included a photography studio experience for participants (students, staff, faculty, community members); a studio workshop with Seeds of Promise, a community organization partner of the Center for this special event; studio workshops with student, staff, faculty, community member attendees; a curated photography exhibit; and a keynote address with John Noltner, A Peace of My Mind's founder, photographer, and storyteller. A Peace of My Mind leads transformative experiences that help a polarized world rediscover our common humanity.


6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

L.V. Eberhard Center (Pew Grand Rapids Campus)
301 Fulton Street W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Lessons on the Road to Peace
Frustrated with a polarized world, John Noltner drove 40,000 miles across the country interviewing and photographing hundreds of people from all walks of life. His keynote address is a multi-media presentation through which he shares his personal story of following his passion while at the same time revealing the wisdom of everyday people and their stories of hope, transformation, and forgiveness. With portraits and personal stories, ordinary people reveal extraordinary insights into how we can work toward common good and create a world that is more just for all. Noltner’s work is grounded in the belief that art and storytelling have the power to transform our hearts as well as our communities, and that we each have the power to create positive change in the world. This keynote address is open to the public and will be interactive, incorporating small group discussions as well as a question/answer session with Noltner. 

This event was approved for INT 100/201 credit!

John Noltner

John Noltner
Photographer, Storyteller, and Founder of A Peace of My Mind


Kirkhof Center, Pere Marquette Room 2204 (Allendale Campus)
10670 S. Campus Drive
Allendale, MI 49401

This curated, mobile exhibit features compelling portraits and inspiring personal stories from people of diverse backgrounds responding to the simple question: What does peace mean to you?

Exhibit Hours:

  • Monday, November 7th: 9:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 8th: 1:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 9th: 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
Portrait by John Noltner of an African American woman
Portrait by John Noltner of a man standing with his hands in his pockets
Portrait by John Noltner of a woman with long brown hair, smiling


Kirkhof Center, Pere Marquette Room 2204 (Allendale Campus)
10670 S. Campus Drive
Allendale, MI 49401

John Noltner created a studio set up onsite during designated hours of the exhibit for the purpose of collecting portraits and stories from students, staff, faculty, and community members. Studio time involved having one's portrait taken and a 5-minute interview with Noltner. The interview question invited attendees to tell a story about their own perspectives. The question was: What is one hope you have for our country during these divided times? Noltner then integrated the portraits and interviews collected into a video montage, which premiered at the keynote address on Wednesday, November 9. In this way, our community’s stories were reflected back to us.

Studio Hours:

  • Monday, November 7th: 11:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 8th: 1:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Page last modified December 14, 2022