The open source format of Living Room Conversations lets us harness the collective wisdom of everyone willing to contribute their insights. We welcome a wide variety of distinctive voices, ideas and experiences to be shared to better further the community’s desires and needs. We have only just begun! We want to learn about the 2nd and 3rd conversations, how different communities are utilizing Living Room Conversations, what’s working and what’s not, how these conversations are moving individuals and groups towards collective action. We invite you to share your insight or story...
*Living Room Conversations hopes to share your story with other members of the Living Room Conversations community, the general public, members of the media and/or elected officials to encourage more civil dialogue across our country with your first-hand experiences.
Living Room Conversations is an open source project. We hope that all sorts of individuals and groups will use the materials we have developed and will collectively develop. There is no need to ask permission when using open source material. That said, we are asking individuals and groups that use the materials to share their experiences with us and make suggestions for improvement, so that we learn from the experiences of others. We wish to improve core materials as people share stories about their conversations and make suggestions.
We want to work with you to expand and explore the possibilities of this project. Our intent is to transform our private conversations and ultimately, our public conversations as well. Living with the negative consequences of the polarized dynamics that pervade our society at this time oppresses all of us. It is time to unleash the potential for heartfelt conversation that can transform our distrust into understanding and a search for collaborative solutions to the many challenges we face together.
Living Room Conversations launched this website to serve as a place for you to visit and find materials that will introduce you to this project as well as serve as a repository for what we learn together as this exploration of intimate community conversations progresses. We hope that it will become a venue for us to discuss where we would like to go from here. Perhaps this website will become a place where community develops online or ideas that emerge in conversation are further developed. Our intent is to be open to the needs and wishes of the community that grows around this initiative. We look to share what is learned so that together we can make respectful listening and the search for common ground a new norm in this country.
February 12, 2013 1:55 pm
by Claude E. Welch The following is the text of my regular monthly column in the Lufkin (Texas) Daily News that appeared last Friday. The goals of two political organizations, MoveOn.org on the left and the Tea Party on the right, are as divided as political goals can possibly get. They are “natural born” political rivals. However, recent news is their divide is narrowing and, if so, it is not encouraging for some politicians and their major financial backers. First, the news out of San Francisco details a meeting in the Berkeley living room of Joan Blades, a co-founder of MoveOn.org, and Mark Meckler, a national Tea Party leader. According to a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle the meeting was “a mind blowing political tableau of a liberal bulwark sharing homemade blueberry scones and occasionally agreeing with a Tea Party leader.” The gathering of the two political figures and their guests was the latest offshoot from an online organization called Living Room Conversations that was co-founded by Ms. Blades and a New Jersey GOP operative Amanda Kathryn Roman. Ms. Roman says their purpose is to “promote intimate gatherings of folks who might believe they agree on little politically – until they sit down together to listen to one another’s perspective. Civilly.” There have been meetings toward that purpose and there are signs of progress that offer a glimmer of light (and hope) at the end of a dark political tunnel. At the Berkeley meeting one topic was “crony capitalism.” According to the news source the group, “after three hours of watching one another’s media caricatures disappear the participants decided that, for starters, they’d all support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, a depression era federal law that prohibited commercial banks from getting involved in investment banking.” The act was repealed in 1999 and is “widely seen as a major contributor to the 2008 financial market crash.” The group acknowledged “getting so wrapped up in their partisan driven politics that they don’t take time to see who is picking both of their pockets.” They agreed that politicians “all like to pit us against each other. They don’t care about us. They don’t care about poor kids. They don’t care about small businesses owners. They’re just playing the politics of hate.” The group also agreed that “their family and faith were the most important things in their lives” and “there is plenty of room for transpartisan agreement, especially for a country that seems starved for it in the face of tough national debates over guns, spending and immigration.” Ralph Benko, a conservative commentator who introduced those who attended the Berkeley meeting, said “If MoveOn and the Tea Party agree on anything all politicians should watch out.” Second, MoveOn and Tea Party activists are working to oust Sen. Mitch Mc Connell (R-Kentucky) when he comes up for re-election in 2014. That should not be a difficult task as just 17% of all voters in his state say they’ll vote for him, including only 34% more »
By Marty Sorensen Over the years I have learned that getting things done requires intelligent discussion and, probably, most important the art of listening. As a retired civil engineer/meteorologist/project manager, I had to develop a better sense of communication. And being a good listener is at the core of civil discourse. I have had the luxury of having a very diverse group of friends and colleagues from the quite liberal to the very conservative. Those friendships have endured many years and are priceless. A diversity of thought is what makes America a laboratory of learning.
When I agreed to host a Living Room Conversation about money in politics I did not realize how many issues the conversation might touch on. At first, when we engaged on other issues, I worried about getting side tracked. Then I realized that it was ok to get sidetracked. That was part of us getting to know each other. And occasionally when these other conversations looked like they could be a whole additional conversation we agreed to set the issue aside for now, with the understanding that if we wanted to have a future conversation about it we could.