This episode looks at the simple, highly personal way that living room conversations allow people of different viewpoints to really hear each other.
A progressive activist, Joan Blades was deeply involved in starting MoveOn.org in the late 90's. More recently she has also worked on ways to encourage respect and dialog among liberals, independents and conservatives. She is the cofounder of LivingRoomConversations.org.
In part one last week (episode 43), we looked at why Americans need to find new ways to speak about our differences, such as visiting websites with opposing political opinions, and having conversations that are not vindictive.
"It's actually really fun having a living room conversation," says Joan. "They're more fun than if you have a bunch of people around that you know what they're going to say. We get to laugh about our differences once we understand what's going on."
Among the first conversations the group had was a discussion on climate and energy. "One of the problems progressives have right now is that if they run into someone who doesn't believe in climate science, they roll their eyes." As soon as you do that, "you've lost your conversation," Joan says. "Nobody listens to anybody."
Here are some of the topics we raised in this episode:
- LivingRoomConversations.org has simple for ground rules each meeting - encouraging participants to be curious, show respect and take turns.
- Listening to people is the best way to get people to listen to you.
- These conversations are not debates. Instead of winning, the aim is come up with solutions.
- LivingRoomConverstions.org guidelines are open-source. People can use what works for them.