Living Room Conversations

Amanda Kathryn Roman of the Citizens in Charge Foundation and Joan Blades of MoveOn.org and MomsRising are collaborating to launch a new and exciting project to promote civil conversations: www.LivingRoomConversations.org. It is an open-source project that provides a model for respectful conversations among friends & friends of friends around political issues that are typically polarizing.

It leverages the common sense of average citizens and believes that through a movement beginning with intimate local conversations, citizens from across the political spectrum just might be able to short circuit the destructive political dynamics we find ourselves trapped in. This model can be applied to any issue or area in which a community finds tension or friction but wants to work towards a solution and it does not require a trained facilitator.

The Public Conversations Project is serving as LRC’s fiscal sponsor and their newly-launched website is up and running at www.LivingRoomConversations.org. LRC was honored recently when Craig Newmark of Craigslist named the project 1 of 16 People & Organizations that are Changing the World in 2012: http://craigconnects.org/2011/12/changing-the-world-in-2012.html.

Between December 2010 and June 2011, LRC conducted a pilot project, eight Living Room Conversations convened in five states – Colorado, California, Washington, New Hampshire and North Carolina. For these first conversations, they chose the topic of energy independence/climate change. They tested the hypothesis that people can come together through their existing social networks, as friends and friends of friends, and engage in a self-guided, structured conversation about a charged political issue.

Each conversation had self-identified “progressive” and “conservative” co-hosts. Each host invited two of their friends or family members who shared their political worldview to join an evening of conversation. These initial conversations demonstrated that meaningful conversation is not only possible in this context, it is, in fact, deeply appreciated, and for many participants was transformational. Participants expressed surprise that it was possible to “go so deep” with people they did not know and gratitude for the experience. More than half indicated a desire to have more conversations of this nature. You can read the full report about the pilot project.

Check out their materials for hosts and participants at http://livingroomconversations.org/materials/.

This is definitely a project to watch!

Resource Link: www.LivingRoomConversations.org

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