Groundbreaking Conversation Demonstration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Joan Blades, Joan@LivingRoomConversations.org
Amanda Kathryn Roman, Amanda@LivingRoomConversations.org

November 28, 2011

(CALIFORNIA)… Joan Blades and Amanda Kathryn Roman will demonstrate a groundbreaking self-guided Living Room Conversation amongst individuals with a broad spectrum of political perspectives on the topic of money in politics during the 6th Annual Engaging the Other Conference at Santa Clara University on December 3rd. Roman, a conservative grassroots political activist and Blades, a longtime progressive leader and activist have partnered on the Living Room Conversations project to elevate it to the next level after a successful pilot project last year. This exciting social experiment empowers a small group of people (6) to come together to get to know one another in a more meaningful way than usual, by talking about issues that are of personal priority and concern to each participant. The purpose is not to debate any issue but rather to be open and curious about all perspectives and see what we learn from one another. Members of the press are welcome to observe the demonstration of a simulated Living Room Conversation; Joan and Amanda will also be available for interviews. The program schedule for the 6th Annual Engaging the Other Conference can be found online: http://www.cbiworld.org/Pages/Conferences_ETO_ProgSessions.htm

Living Room Conversations has recently affiliated with the Public Conversations Project. Public Conversations is a Boston-based nonprofit that works globally to prevent and transform conflicts driven by deep differences in identity, beliefs or values. Public Conversations has embraced the opportunity to work collaboratively with the founders of Living Room Conversations, as both groups share a passion to reduce the polarization that is damaging our country’s public life.

“I want political discourse in the United States to be respectful, constructive, collaborative, solution focused and conducive to empowering healthy communities,” said Amanda Kathryn Roman. She continued, “Average Americans understand that it's not always about bringing someone to your ‘side’ but understanding where they are coming from... and then it is possible to see different angles and possible areas of mutual concern and therefore agreement.” Joan Blades talked about the need to bring civil discourse to scale: “Individuals, families, faith organizations, clubs, schools, advocacy organizations and legislatures would benefit from promoting more respectful relationships. For instance, the Sierra Club could propose conversations about coal fired power plants, the Tea Party could propose conversations about reducing the deficit, Common Cause could propose conversations about reducing corporate influence in politics, local clubs could propose conversations about improving their neighborhood school and individuals could propose conversations with neighbors simply to deepen connections within their community.”

In an effort to make their shared dream of respectful conversation becoming the new normal, they are working to bring Living Room Conversations to scale on a national level. LivingRoomConversations.org has launched and will have materials and guidelines for Living Room Conversations available to all in early December. Joan and Amanda aim to empower Americans from all walks of life to revitalize the art of conversation among people with diverse views reminding our fellow Americans of the power and beauty of civil discourse.

ABOUT LIVING ROOM CONVERSATIONS:

The LRC pilot project was initiated to test the hypothesis that people can come together through their social networks, as friends and friends of friends, and engage in a self-guided structured conversation about a charged political issue. Between December 2010 and June 2011 six LRCs with project staff as observers were convened in three states (Colorado, California and Washington) as well as two fully independent conversations without project staff observing in (New Hampshire and North Carolina). We wanted to know: Could we have a 2 ½ hour, small group, living room conversation between people with differing beliefs that is respectful, overcomes defensiveness, reveals common ground, generates a heartfelt connection (based on shared values, concerns and interest) and leave participants willing to talk further? This initial exploration 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.

ABOUT LIVING ROOM CONVERSATIONS PROJECT PARTNERS:

Joan Blades - Co-creator of Living Room Conversations, co-founder of MomsRising.org & MoveOn.org as well as co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where and How to Work and Boost the Bottom Line & The Motherhood Manifesto. Trained as an attorney/mediator, 10 years as a software entrepreneur and always a nature lover, she is also an artist, mother and true believer in the power of citizens & our need to rebuild respectful civil discourse and embrace our core shared values.

Amanda Kathryn Roman – Co-Founder of Changing the Game: Power, Politics & Participation, mom, wife, gamechanger, transpartisan grassroots organizer, commonsense patriot and crunchy conservative. Roman has been making a difference as a political bridgebuilder for the past sixteen years working to awaken the spirit of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. She is passionate about shifting the corrosive political power and conflict game to one aimed at fostering constructive and cooperative solutions for our country and our communities. Amanda is a firm believer in the power of genuine, respectful conversation and is committed to empowering others to have those conversations.