The coronavirus has touched everyone in some way, separating us, causing loss and uncertainty, preventing us from celebrating or even grieving together. Yet it has also brought us closer through shared sacrifice and helping each other. Many of us are realizing how disconnected we had become from our families, neighbors and communities. We all want our nation to open again, but we also want to keep our hearts open and create stronger relationships and communities than we had before. 

Round 1: Getting Started

Arrival 
As people join the video call, let’s say hello and chat for a few minutes until all have arrived. Here are some tips for making our video call go smoothly:
  • Turn on your video if you can, so we can see each other
  • Use a headset or earbuds if you have them
  • Call in by phone separately (and mute your computer) if your internet is unsteady
 
Welcome 
Introduce yourself with your name, where you live and answer one of these questions:
  • What is one thing about you that a person wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at you?
  • Who do you admire most in your life and why?
 
Our time together 
Let’s agree on how we will show up to create an atmosphere for open, honest conversation. We can read these aloud and remind each other, if we need to.
  • Stay fully present
    • Avoid checking messages, email or any other distractions
  • Listen first with curiosity
    • Don’t try to convince anyone of anything. Our purpose is to understand
    • Share the air. Step back and give others a chance to be heard
  • Suspend judgment
    • We are all on our own journeys and shaped by our experiences. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and be patient if the tech gets glitchy.

Round 2: Life in Stressful Times

Quick Warm-up
Share one or two words that describe how you are feeling during the pandemic. 
 
An Earlier Challenging Time
We all have endured challenges. One of the assumptions of this conversation is that we grow from overcoming difficulty, that we learn from adversity, and that we have stronger bonds from going through shared hardship. Who wants to share a story?
  • Describe when you have faced a challenge in life before, how you got through it and what lessons or strengths you may have gained from it.

What has pandemic life been like for you? 
Let’s go around the group and respond to both of these questions. 
  • What, if anything, has been hard for you during this period?
  • What, if anything, has given you happiness during this period?

Round 3: Post-Pandemic Growth

Lessons from This Experience
From what we shared about the good and bad of the pandemic...
  • Is there something about yourself or your community you learned that makes you want to live differently as we re-open?

Round 4: Wrap-up

Quick Tasks
  • Let’s take a group photo/screenshot to remember this talk
  • Do we want to meet again to continue the conversation?
 
Final Thoughts
Let’s go around one last time:
  • Share something you are taking from today’s conversation and a step you might take to be part of a more connected community after Covid.
 
*     *     *     *     *     *
 
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Braver Angels has developed a way for people of different races or ethnic groups to have a different kind of conversation than usually occurs when we talk about race in this country.  The process involves two structured 1-hour conversations between two people who identify with difference races or ethnic groups.  We are currently focusing on conversations between black and white people. What follows is the first of two conversations. 

Round 1: Open Up the Conversation

After taking time to make sure the Zoom settings are working, or after both people are settled in for the in-person conversation, one of you reads the goals and then the other reads the ground rules.
 
Goals
 
✔ More understanding of the experiences, feelings, and beliefs of someone of a different race or ethnic group
 
✔ Discovering any areas of commonality in addition to differences 
 
✔ Ideas for how we might make a difference for our children and our nation
 
 
Ground Rules
 
1. We’re here to explain our views and to understand the other person, not to convince the other person to shift their attitudes or change their mind.  In other words, this is an open sharing, not a debate to establish who has the right perspective or correct facts.
 
2. We’re here as individuals.  Let’s not assume the other person holds the views of a larger group—unless they say they do.  
 
3. We’re going to stick to the process for each stage of the conversation.  Example: if the question is what we each learned about how the other person sees an issue, that’s all we do then even if it means resisting the urge to “correct’ the other person’s obvious error or blind spot!  
 
4. We give each other permission to remind each other gently if we veer off from the process, as in “I think right now we’re supposed to be doing….”
 
Are we both on board with these goals and ground rules, and ready to go?

Copyright 2020 Braver Angels All Rights Reserved

Round 2: Getting to Know Each Other

Question 1: Why we are participating
 
Why did we each decide to participate in this conversation?

Each person takes 1 minute - afterwards, 2 minutes (here and elsewhere, feel free to use less time)

Did you see anything in common in why you are participating?

Suggestion: alternate who begins responding to each question from here on.
 
Question 2: Something about ourselves 

Share something about ourselves such as where we each live and for how long, family, and (if we like) a fun question:  What was your favorite meal as a child?  

Up to 2 minutes each 

Round 3: How We Each Feel about Being Part of Our Group

Question 3:  How do you identify yourself in terms of race, ethnicity, or cultural heritage?

60 seconds each, more time if needed.  Feel free to answer this question in a way that makes sense to you.  The basic idea is to name a group that you can say "we" about when engaging in a conversation with someone of another racial, ethnic, or cultural group.  This might involve standard categories of race or ethnicity, or combinations like race and geographical region, country of origin, social class, religious heritage--or other dimensions of identity. 
 
Question 4: What do you value about having your racial, ethnic, or cultural identity?  What is awesome/great/special/cool for you about being a member of your group and having your heritage?   (You can answer in terms of your race, ethnicity, culture, or any combination.)  Only positives here.

Each goes in turn. (Up to 4 minutes each) No interruptions or cross talk.

Afterwards, back and forth conversation:  
What did you learn about how the other person sees the positives of being part of the group they identify with, and do you see anything in common?    

4 minutes total
 
Question 5:  What is painful/disturbing/draining/despairing for you about being a member of your group and having your heritage?  This could include how your group has been treated or how your group has treated others.   

4 minutes for each person.  No cross talk.

Afterwards, back and forth for 4 minutes on this question: 

What did you learn about the other person’s experience of the hard parts of being in their group, and do you see anything in common?

Round 4: Check Out

How do we each feel about the conversation we’ve just had?

Do we want to go forward with the second conversation?  If so, let’s schedule it.

Braver Angels has developed a way for people of different races or ethnic groups to have a different kind of conversation than usually occurs when we talk about race in this country.  The process involves two structured 1-hour conversations between two people who identify with difference races or ethnic groups.  We are currently focusing on conversations between black and white people. This is the second of two conversations. 

Round 1: Open Up the Conversation

Goals
 
✔ More understanding of the experiences, feelings, and beliefs of someone of a different race or ethnic group
 
✔ Discovering any areas of commonality in addition to differences 
 
✔ Ideas for how we might make a difference for our children and our nation
 
 
Ground Rules
 
1. We’re here to explain our views and to understand the other person, not to convince the other person to shift their attitudes or change their mind.  In other words, this is an open sharing, not a debate to establish who has the right perspective or correct facts.
 
2. We’re here as individuals.  Let’s not assume the other person holds the views of a larger group—unless they say they do.  
 
3. We’re going to stick to the process for each stage of the conversation.  Example: if the question is what we each learned about how the other person sees an issue, that’s all we do then even if it means resisting the urge to “correct’ the other person’s obvious error or blind spot!  
 
4. We give each other permission to remind each other gently if we veer off from the process, as in “I think right now we’re supposed to be doing….”


Silently look through the goals and ground rules again.  When finished, signal that you are both on board and ready to go.

Copyright 2020 Braver Angels All Rights Reserved

Any reflections from the first conversation or thoughts since then? (3 min. total)

One person at a time. Listen and appreciate what each of you says. 

If there is something you want to change this time (for example, more equal sharing of the time, or sticking more closely to the questions), decide that together.  Then move on to Part 2.

Round 2: Changes We Each Would Like to See

Alternate asking the questions and responding to them
 
Question 1: Changes in the larger world

What needs to change in the structures, institutions, or culture of American society so that all of our children have a better chance to succeed and flourish? (10 min.)

4 minutes each.  Other person listens.  No cross talk.
 
Afterwards back and forth (4 minutes total) 
What did you learn about how the other person views what needs to change in society, and did you see anything in common?  
 
Question 2: Changes within our own groups and communities

What needs to change within my own racial/ethnic/cultural community, along with larger societal change, for all of our children to succeed and flourish, and what resources already present in my community can be drawn upon? (10 min.) 

4 minutes each.  Other person listens.  No cross talk.
 
Afterwards back and forth (4 minutes total) 
What did you learn about how the other person thinks about what needs to change in their own community, and did you see anything in common?  

Round 3: Action Ideas


Question 3:  What can we do?
 
What can each of us do individually, within our own group, and together to create a better world for all of our children?

Take a few minutes to write down a few ideas, starting with what you plan to do personally.  “Actions” might include anything from speaking up more effectively within or between our racial groups, to visible, public steps to take.  

No pressure here to fill all the boxes.  When you are finished writing, take turns sharing and discussing your ideas.  If you want to take notes on what the other person proposes, print out an extra copy of this page.  Afterwards, share what you wrote.

Round 4: Check Out

What are we each taking with us from these two Better Angels conversations?
2 minutes each person
 
Do we want to co-write a brief summary for Better Angels of our experience in this conversation and our ideas for action?  If yes, who wants to start the draft over the next week or so? A template you can use is linked here. 

All participants please complete this quick, confidential survey to share your feedback about this conversation.

Overview:  This conversation guide provides an opportunity to talk 1:1 with someone outside of your own political group about what you each believe and want for the country.  This is the first of two 1-hour conversations that are self-directed and non-facilitated, following a detailed structure. Some pairs find it useful to use a phone timer, to help stay on track and share airtime evenly, especially during parts of the conversation when you each have several minutes to talk.

Round 1: Open Up the Conversation

After settling in and making sure audio / video are working, one of the participants reads these goals and ground rules out loud:
 
Goals:
  • Gain more understanding of the experiences, feelings, and beliefs of someone who differs with you in today’s politically polarized environment. 
  • Discover areas of commonality in addition to differences. 
 
Ground Rules:
  1. We’re here to explain our views and to understand the other person, not to convince the other person to change their mind. 
  2. We’re here as individuals. Let’s not assume the other person holds any particular views of a political party or political leader—unless they say they do.
  3. We’re going to describe our own views and avoid characterizing the views of the other person in terms they don’t use themselves. In other words, no applying our own labels to other person person’s positions (for example, “big government liberal” or “anti-immigrant conservative”).  
  4. We’re going stick to the process for each stage of the conversation.  Example: if the question is what we each learned about how the other person sees an issue, that’s all we do then, even if it means resisting the urge to “correct" the other person’s obvious mistake!  We give each other permission to gently remind each other if we veer off from the process.
 
Discuss: Are you both on board with these goals and ground rules, and ready to go?

Copyright 2020 Braver Angels All Rights Reserved

Round 2: Get to Know Each Other and How We See Our Own Side

Each person takes 1-2 minutes max to answer each of the following questions (here and elsewhere, feel free to use less time):
 
  • Why have you decided to participate in this conversation?
  • Do you hear anything in common in why you are participating?

Suggestion: alternate who reads and answers each question from here on.

Round 3: Share Something About Yourself

Spend up to 2 minutes each sharing something about yourself such as where you live and for how long, family, and if you like, a fun question: 

  • What was your favorite meal as a child?  

Round 4: Share Where You Are Politically, and How You Got Here

Each person spend up to 5 minutes each on the following question. The other person listens, with no cross talk (that is, no questions, “me too” comments, or anything that takes the conversational ball away from the one speaking). Then the other person goes. Starting at this point, it can be really helpful to set a timer.

  • How would you describe yourself politically, and what life experiences have influenced your values and beliefs about politics and public policy? 

Then, go on to this question, still taking turns:


  • What did you learn about the other person’s political perspective, and did you see anything in common?

Round 5: What’s Good About Your Side?

Each person answer the following question, for 4 minutes each. No cross talk.  Speak just about your own side, and avoid comparisons that characterize the other side (“My side cares more about….”)

  • What's good about my political "side?"

Afterwards, spend 4 minutes taking turns answering the following:

  • What did you learn about how the other person sees the benefits of their side, and did you see anything in common? 

Round 6: Share Justifiable Criticisms of Your Own Side

This is an opportunity for humility about your own side—what makes you wince (at least a little) about your own side? Make sure you refer only to your side and avoid watering down your points by saying things like “Of course, both sides are guilty of this.” 4 minutes for each person. No cross talk.

  • What are my reservations or concerns about my own side? 

Afterwards, go back and forth for 4 minutes on this question:

  • What did you learn about the other person’s concerns about their own side, and do you see anything in common?
 
Note: if both of you have participated in a Red/Blue workshop where you heard each other’s answers to questions 4 and 5, you can substitute Topic 1 from the second conversation. You can then add an additional topic next time. In other words, you can skip questions 4 and 5 (if you like), and have three topical conversations instead of two.

Round 7: Check Out, Say Goodbye

Take turns answering the following questions (1-2 minutes per person, per question):

  • How did I feel about this conversation? 
  • Do I want to go forward with the second conversation? 

If "yes" on both sides, schedule 2nd conversation. In the next conversation, you will each talk about a policy issue you care about deeply, so it would be good to come prepared with an issue in mind.

Please say goodbye, then each take a few minutes to complete
this confidential survey.  

Overview:  This conversation guide provides an opportunity to talk 1:1 with someone outside of your own political group about what you each believe and want for the country.  This is the second of two 1-hour conversations that are self-directed and non-facilitated, following a detailed structure. Some pairs find it useful to use a phone timer, to help stay on track and share airtime evenly, especially during parts of the conversation when you each have several minutes to talk.

Round 1: Open Up the Conversation

After settling in and making sure audio / video are working, one of the participants reads these goals and ground rules out loud:
 
Goals:
  • Gain more understanding of the experiences, feelings, and beliefs of someone who differs with you in today’s politically polarized environment. 
  • Discover areas of commonality in addition to differences. 
 
Ground Rules:
  1. We’re here to explain our views and to understand the other person, not to convince the other person to change their mind. 
  2. We’re here as individuals. Let’s not assume the other person holds any particular views of a political party or political leader—unless they say they do.
  3. We’re going to describe our own views and avoid characterizing the views of the other person in terms they don’t use themselves. In other words, no applying our own labels to other person person’s positions (for example, “big government liberal” or “anti-immigrant conservative”).  
  4. We’re going stick to the process for each stage of the conversation.  Example: if the question is what we each learned about how the other person sees an issue, that’s all we do then, even if it means resisting the urge to “correct" the other person’s obvious mistake!  We give each other permission to gently remind each other if we veer off from the process.
 
Silently read through the goals and ground rules again.  When finished, signal that you are both on board and ready to go.

Copyright 2020 Braver Angels All Rights Reserved
 
Any reflections from the first conversation or thoughts since then? (3 min total)
One person at a time

Round 2: Political Issues of Importance to Each of Us

Overview:  In this conversation you will alternate talking about an issue you each care a lot about, while the other person listens. Then the listener offers their own view of the same issue. (Ideally, each of you picks a different issue.) The goal is clarification of viewpoints and understanding of differences, along with discovering whether there are any areas of agreement.  Let’s decide who will go first and then we can alternate who goes first after that.
 
Topic 1
 
Talk about your view of an issue that’s important to you. Say why it’s important in terms of your values, life experiences, and concerns for the country.
4 minutes
Other person listens.  No cross talk.
The other person gives their view of the same issue.  
This is an opportunity to talk about how you see the issue, rather than just counter the view of the other person (although differences are important to air).  It helps if you can begin with any areas of similarity or agreement.
4 minutes
Other person listens.  No cross talk.
 
Afterwards back and forth (4 minutes total) 
What did you learn about what’s important to the other person about this issue, and did you see anything in common?  
● Try to listen for values, beliefs, feelings, and hopes that underlie the other person’s specific policy views on the issue.

Topic 2
 
The other person shares their views on another issue.  
Same process as above:
 
Talk about your view of an issue that’s important to you. Say why it’s important in terms of your values, life experiences, and concerns for the country.
4 minutes
Other person listens.  No cross talk.
The other person gives their view of the same issue.  
This is an opportunity to talk about how you see the issue, rather than just counter the view of the other person (although differences are important to air).  It helps if you can begin with any areas of similarity or agreement.
4 minutes
Other person listens.  No cross talk.
 
Afterwards back and forth (4 minutes total) 
●  What did you learn about what’s important to the other person about this issue, and did you see anything in common?  
●  Try to listen for values, beliefs, feelings, and hopes that underlie the other person’s specific policy views on the issue.
 

Round 3: Hopes for the Country

Each of you answers this question:  What are your hopes and aspirations for our country?  (3 minutes each)                                  
 
● Suggestion: focus on the positives you hope for, rather than just the negatives you hope we avoid.
 
Afterwards for both:  As you listened, what stood out as most important to the other person, and did you see anything in common? 
Go back and forth for up to 4 minutes.
 
 
How do you think that individual Americans like us can make a positive difference?  And how might Americans work together                                            towards the hopes and aspirations you mentioned?  (Back and forth, 5 minutes)

Round 4: Check Out

What are you taking with you from this Braver Angels conversation? (1 min. each)

Please say goodbye, then each take a few minutes to complete this confidential survey.  

Overview:  This is a self-directed conversation between two people who identify with rural or urban living places and want to better understand each other’s worlds.  It involves two one-hour structured conversations.

Design Rationale

1. The design emphasizes listening and learning.
2. Both people share and learn.  No one is teaching the other or defending their community.

Round 1: Opening

After taking time to make sure the video settings are working, or after both people are settled in for the in-person conversation, one of the participants reads the goals and then the other reads the ground rules.
 
Goals
 
✔ More understanding of the experiences, feelings, and beliefs of someone who lives in a different part of the state or country
 
✔ Discovering any areas of commonality in addition to differences 
 
✔ Ideas for how we might make a difference for bridging rural/urban divides 
 
Ground Rules
 
1. We’re here to explain our views and to understand the other person, not to convince the other person to shift their attitudes or change their mind.  
 
2. We’re here as individuals.  Let’s not assume the other person holds the views of a larger group—unless they say they do.  
 
3. We’re going to stick to the process for each stage of the conversation.  Example: if the question is what we each learned about how the other person sees an issue, that’s all we do then even if it means resisting the urge to “correct” the other person’s obvious error or further explain our own viewpoint.    
 
4. We give each other permission to remind each other gently if we veer off from the process, as in “I think right now we’re supposed to be doing….”
 

Are we both on board with these goals and ground rules, and ready to go?

Copyright 2020 Braver Angels All Rights Reserved

Round 2: Getting to Know Each Other

Question 1: Why did we each decide to participate in this conversation? 
Each person takes 1 minute

Afterwards, 2 minutes (here and elsewhere, feel free to use less time)

Did you see anything in common in why you are participating?

Suggestion: alternate who begins responding to each question from here on.
 
Question 2: Something about ourselves 
 
Share something about yourself such as where you live and for how long, family, and (if you like) a fun question:  What was your favorite meal as a child?  

Up to 2 minutes each 

Round 3: Understanding Where We Each Live

Question 3: What do you value about living where you do?  What are the best parts of residing in your community and your part of your state?   
Only positives here, consider telling a personal story to make your community come      alive to the other person, and try to avoid negative comparisons with other places      (as in, “I could never live in a dangerous city or in a small town with too little to do”). 
 
Each goes in turn. (Up to 4 minutes each) No interruptions or cross talk.
Afterwards, back and forth conversation:  

What did you learn about how the other person sees the positives of living where they do, and do you see anything in common?    

4 minutes total
 
Question 4:  What is difficult or challenging for you about living where you do?  What are the downsides?   
 
2 minutes for each person.  No cross talk.

Afterwards, back and forth for 2 minutes on this question: 

What did you learn about the other person’s experience of the hard parts of living where they do, and do you see anything in common?
 
Question 5:   One of the reasons for these rural/urban conversations is that people often have stereotypes of those who live in different places.  In your view, what are the main misconceptions or misunderstandings that people have about where you live?  What images of your community would you like to correct or set straight? 
 
2 minutes for each person.  No cross talk

Afterwards, back and forth for 2 minutes on this question: 

What did you learn about how the other person sees their community misunderstood by others, and do you see anything in common?

Round 4: Check Out

How do we each feel about the conversation we’ve just had?

Do we both want to go forward with the second conversation? 
 
Confirm schedule for the second conversation

 Please say goodbye, then each take a few minutes to complete this confidential survey.  

Overview:  This conversation guide provides an opportunity to talk 1:1 with someone outside of your own political group about what you each believe and want for the country.  This is the second of two 1-hour conversations that are self-directed and non-facilitated, following a detailed structure. Some pairs find it useful to use a phone timer, to help stay on track and share airtime evenly, especially during parts of the conversation when you each have several minutes to talk.

Copyright 2020 Braver Angels All Rights Reserved





Round 1: Open Up the Conversation


Goals
 
✔ More understanding of the experiences, feelings, and beliefs of someone who lives in a different part of the state or country
 
✔ Discovering any areas of commonality in addition to differences 
 
✔ Ideas for how we might make a difference for bridging rural/urban divides 
 
Ground Rules
 
1. We’re here to explain our views and to understand the other person, not to convince the other person to shift their attitudes or change their mind.  
 
2. We’re here as individuals.  Let’s not assume the other person holds the views of a larger group—unless they say they do.  
 
3. We’re going to stick to the process for each stage of the conversation.  Example: if the question is what we each learned about how the other person sees an issue, that’s all we do then even if it means resisting the urge to “correct” the other person’s obvious error or further explain our own viewpoint.    

4. We give each other permission to remind each other gently if we veer off from the process, as in “I think right now we’re supposed to be doing….”


Opening (10 minutes)
 
Greetings and getting settled.
 
Silently look through the goals and ground rules again.  When finished, signal that you are both on board and ready to go.
 
Any reflections from the first conversation or thoughts since then? (3 min. total)

One person at a time. Listen and appreciate what each of you says. 

If there is something you want to change this time (for example, more equal sharing of the time, or sticking more closely to the questions), decide that together.  Then move on to Part 2.







Round 2: Public Policy Issues of Importance to Each of Us - Topic 1

Overview:  In this part of the conversation you will alternate talking about a public policy issue you each care a lot about, while the other person listens. Then the listener offers their own view of the same issue. (Ideally, each of you picks an issue that is of special importance to people in your community, and one that may not always be well understood by people living elsewhere.) The goal is clarification of viewpoints and understanding of differences, along with discovering whether there are any areas of agreement.  
Let’s decide who will go first and then alternate who goes first after that.

Talk about your view of an issue that’s important to you.

4 minutes - Other person listens.  No cross talk.

Then the other person gives their view of the same issue.  

This is an opportunity to talk about how you see the issue, rather than just counter the view of the other person (although differences are important to air). Feel free to share what you may not understand about the issue.

 It helps if you can begin with any areas of similarity or agreement.

4 minutes - Other person listens.  No cross talk.
  
Afterwards back and forth (4 minutes total) 

What did you learn about what’s important to the other person about this issue, and did you see anything in common?  

Try to listen for values, beliefs, feelings, and hopes that underlie the other person’s specific policy views on the issue.

Round 3: Public Policy Issues of Importance to Each of Us - Topic 2

The other person shares their views on another issue.  
Same process as above:
 
Talk about your view of an issue that’s important to you.

4 minutes - Other person listens.  No cross talk.

The other person gives their view of the same issue.  

This is an opportunity to talk about how you see the issue, rather than just counter the view of the other person (although differences are important to air).  It helps if you can begin with any areas of similarity or agreement. Feel free to share what you may not understand about the issue.
 
4 minutes - Other person listens.  No cross talk.
 
Afterwards back and forth (4 minutes total) 
What did you learn about what’s important to the other person about this issue, and did you see anything in common?  
● Try to listen for values, beliefs, feelings, and hopes that underlie the other person’s specific policy views on the issue.

Round 4: Building Bridges

Each of you answers this question:  How would it be helpful to our communities, our state, and our nation if rural and urban people understood each other better and could work together for the common good of all?  (2 minutes each)                          
 
●Suggestion: focus on your hopes and aspirations here rather than on specific action ideas.  (Those come later.)  
 
Afterwards for both:  As you listened, what stood out as most important to the other person, and did you see anything in common? 
Go back and forth for up to 4 minutes.
  
The last part is about possible action steps.

Question:  What can each of us do individually, within our own group, and together to build bridges between rural and urban people and communities?

Round 5: CHECK OUT

What are we each taking with us from these two Better Angels conversations?
2 minutes each person
 

All participants please complete this quick, confidential survey to share your feedback about this conversation.

American political leaders of all kinds throughout history have pointed out that American identity revolves around a set of ideals – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In his most famous speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described America’s creed as an unfulfilled “promissory note” based on the idea that everyone deserves freedom, fairness, and equal opportunity to pursue happiness and advancement. People of good will often fundamentally agree, yet we struggle to find way to effectively work together.

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.
 
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
  
Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
  
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
  
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
  
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the topic description. 

American political leaders of all kinds throughout history have pointed out that American identity revolves around a set of ideals – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In his most famous speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described America’s creed as an unfulfilled “promissory note” based on the idea that everyone deserves freedom, fairness, and equal opportunity to pursue happiness and advancement. People of good will often fundamentally agree, yet we struggle to find way to effectively work together.

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • What core values do you think Americans fundamentally agree on?
  • What is the promise of the United States to its citizens? To the world?
  • Are we as Americans, living up to our promise to each other?
  • What issues might people of good will work together on because we are in fundamental agreement?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!): 

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

Our social nature is part of our humanity. People tend to like being with other people, and many of us need other people in order to be healthy and happy. The feeling of being alone can weigh heavily on an individual. Yet, for some people, solitude is tranquil, relaxing, and even spiritually rewarding. The current need to physically isolate ourselves from others is putting limits on our social connections. While we are being cut off from outside daily connections, some of us are also sharing living space with others and not having the amount of time and space between us that we’re used to. What is this experience like for you?

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.
 
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
  
Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
  
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
  
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
  
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the topic description.

Our social nature is part of our humanity. People tend to like being with other people, and many of us need other people in order to be healthy and happy. The feeling of being alone can weigh heavily on an individual. Yet, for some people, solitude is tranquil, relaxing, and even spiritually rewarding. The current need to physically isolate ourselves from others is putting limits on our social connections. While we are being cut off from outside daily connections, some of us are also sharing living space with others and not having the amount of time and space between us that we’re used to. What is this experience like for you?

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • What are your best experiences of being alone?
  • Are there times when being alone has been difficult for you?
  • What has been a positive experience of aloneness for you? What has been a negative experience?
  • If you are living with others, how are you experiencing the limited connection outside your space coupled with more exposure to a few individuals?
  • How are you coping with this experience?
  • What are you learning from this experience?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
  • How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!): 

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

During this pandemic, all of us are searching for accurate, fair and thorough information about the coronavirus. The volume of posts, tweets, emails, broadcasts, rumors and well-meant advice directed at us is formidable. We are doing our best to protect our families and communities from the spread of infection, and identifying reliable sources of information isn’t always easy. Sharing about how we’re doing this may help us all stay healthier during this time.

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.

Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.

Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.

Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.

Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.

Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.

Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.

Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the topic description.

During this pandemic, all of us are searching for accurate, fair and thorough information about the coronavirus. The volume of posts, tweets, emails, broadcasts, rumors and well-meant advice directed at us is formidable. We are doing our best to protect our families and communities from the spread of infection, and identifying reliable sources of information isn’t always easy. Sharing about how we’re doing this may help us all stay healthier during this time.

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • What do you need from news sources right now? What information is most important?
  • How do you decide whether you can trust the information you’re hearing or reading?
  • Are you seeking information in new places? If so, how is that helping you feel informed?
  • If you’re experiencing gaps in information, what is it that you’re missing? How are you filling the gap?
  • How do you avoid acting on inaccurate information?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
  • How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!):

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

In the past few weeks, our experience of the coronavirus has shifted from “What’s that?” to “What is this going to mean for my life?” The rapidly-spreading virus is touching all aspects of our personal and community life. Our health, civic, social, work, academic, faith and financial systems are struggling to cope with uncertainty and the need for rapid readjustment. We are physically distancing ourselves from each other to prevent being infected or spreading the infection. As we move forward in this changing environment, it can be helpful to share our experiences and to consider the potential outcomes from our shared national challenge.

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.

Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.

Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.

Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.

Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.

Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.

Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.

Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read this description:

In the past few weeks, our experience of the coronavirus has shifted from “What’s that?” to “What is this going  to  mean for my  life?”  The rapidly-spreading virus is  touching all aspects of our personal and community life. Our health, civic, social, work, academic, faith and financial systems are struggling to cope with uncertainty and the need for rapid readjustment. We are physically distancing ourselves from each other to prevent being infected or spreading the infection. As we move forward in this changing environment, it can be helpful to share our experiences and to consider the potential outcomes from our shared national challenge.

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~ 2 minutes each to answer one of the following questions:

  • How has your understanding about the virus shifted over the past weeks?
  • Where are you getting news about the virus? How are you identifying trust-worthy information?
  • How has your life changed due to the virus? What has been the biggest shift in your everyday routine? What has that been like for you?
  • What is happening with your connection to others in your family? In your community? What has surprised you during this time?
  • What are the coping strengths you bring to this situation? How are you sharing your strengths with your community? What are the struggles you are dealing with? If you’ve needed to ask for help, how has that been for you?
  • What is your dearest hope at this moment? What is your most powerful concern?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
  • How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye, then complete one or more of the following (we especially appreciate your feedback!):

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

Most people need healthcare at some time in their lives. And we all want healthcare in our country to be high quality and affordable. For decades we have spent more on healthcare per capita than any other country in the world, yet our health outcomes are not in the top 20 when it comes to infant mortality or longevity. What might happen if nation wide we had everyone’s best ideas to work with?

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.
 
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
 
 Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
  
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
 
 Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
 
 Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
 
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the topic description.

Most people need healthcare at some time in their lives. And we all want healthcare in our country to be high quality and affordable. For decades we have spent more on healthcare per capita than any other country in the world, yet our health outcomes are not in the top 20 when it comes to infant mortality or longevity. What might happen if nation wide we had everyone’s best ideas to work with?

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • How are your health care needs met? Are you happy with your healthcare?
  • What do you think is the right balance between individual, business, government and other ways in providing healthcare?
  • Do you believe you get a good value for your healthcare dollars?
  • What else would you like to say about healthcare?
  • What do you think of businesses that do or don’t provide health insurance for their employees?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!):
 
  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

Most people agree that we want to reduce the stigma around mental health issues so that individuals and families are more inclined to seek help. Many people look to traditional western medicine for the primary answers to mental health problems. There is growing interest in exploring a wider variety of ways to support people facing mental health challenges. The value of meditation, exercise and other practices show great promise as we learn more and more about the plasticity of our brains. What does it mean to ‘get better’ from a mental health problems, and is it even possible?

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves. 

Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
  
Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
  
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
  
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
  
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
 
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the topic description.

Most people agree that we want to reduce the stigma around mental health issues so that individuals and families are more inclined to seek help. Many people look to traditional western medicine for the primary answers to mental health problems. There is growing interest in exploring a wider variety of ways to support people facing mental health challenges. The value of meditation, exercise and other practices show great promise as we learn more and more about the plasticity of our brains. What does it mean to ‘get better’ from a mental health problems, and is it even possible?

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • What experiences in your life, your work or your family inform your thinking about mental health?
  • Is mental health an important issue in your community, and if so, why?
  • In your experience, how are mental health issues affecting young people? (If you are a young person, how do mental health issues affect you and your peers?)
  • Do you think your religion or culture, or some other aspect of your identity or background, influences how you think about mental health? If so, how?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
 
  • What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
  • How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!):
 
  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

We are in an age of wonder and amazement with technology. It can go anywhere with us and we can be reachable at any time. We use technology to order our groceries, navigate our cities, keep up with breaking news, family members living away and in some cases remain connected to our politicians and faith-based communities. So many of us are reachable and can respond immediately to beeping, buzzing and ringing of texts, emails and phone calls. We like what we feel when our phones ring or ping us with a new message and that makes us want more. Some experts have have suggested that technology is controlling us, that we have lost control of it…like an addiction. Is technology our friend, the life saving tool of the 21st Century or a manipulator of our minds and master of our time? Who is in charge?

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
  
Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
  
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
  
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
  
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the topic description.

We are in an age of wonder and amazement with technology. It can go anywhere with us and we can be reachable at any time. We use technology to order our groceries, navigate our cities, keep up with breaking news, family members living away and in some cases remain connected to our politicians and faith-based communities. So many of us are reachable and can respond immediately to beeping, buzzing and ringing of texts, emails and phone calls. We like what we feel when our phones ring or ping us with a new message and that makes us want more. Some experts have have suggested that technology is controlling us, that we have lost control of it…like an addiction. Is technology our friend, the life saving tool of the 21st Century or a manipulator of our minds and master of our time? Who is in charge?

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • Are there ways that technology has improved or hurt your in-person relationships and interactions?
  • Do you ever turn off your devices? Why or why not?
  • Do you want to change your own behavior around technology? How do you think you can do that?
  • What is the longest amount of time you’ve been unplugged (phone, online)? What happened?
  • Do you remember life before we had mobile phones/tablets or a time when you were unplugged for an extended period? What did you most enjoy?
  • How is our personal technology impacting our society?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!): 

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

The power to come together within similar and across diverse communities seems more and more elusive. Our alienation from the people around us, manifests in ever-growing depression, addiction, physical and psychological abuse, crime, violence and suicide – indicators of spirits in distress and despair. We are caught in giant social and political arguments about the symptoms of our dis-unity that ignore our heart-felt desire for harmony and peace with one another and the earth. In the face of all this, the gift of the power of unity calls us to find our way back to a deep knowing of interconnection and community. Our challenge is to trust in unity, even when we have a history of experiences that lead us to distrust and feel separate from others.

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.
 
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
  
Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
  
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
  
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
 
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.

The power to come together within similar and across diverse communities seems more and more elusive. Our alienation from the people around us, manifests in ever-growing depression, addiction, physical and psychological  abuse,  crime,  violence and suicide – indicators of spirits in distress and despair. We are caught in giant social and political arguments about the symptoms of our dis-unity that ignore our heart-felt desire for harmony and peace with one another and the earth. In the face of all this, the gift of the power of unity calls us to find our way back to a deep knowing of interconnection and community. Our challenge is to trust in unity, even when we have a history of experiences that lead us to distrust and feel separate from others.

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • What does unity mean to you? What does it not include? Has the meaning changed over time?
  • What is your experience of unity? How do you experience yourself in relation to other people and beings?
  • What have you experienced as the benefits or detriments of being in unity with others? For yourself, for the other, for the community?
  • Are there people you distrust, have yet to trust, or will never trust? If so, how does that impact your life and work?
  • What messages about separation or unity do you give yourself or receive from others?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
 
  • What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
  • How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!): 

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

Many people sense that something is broken in society. Surveys show about half of young adult Americans are lonely. Opioid addiction, suicide, gun violence, ethnic tension and depression have been rising. We face rapid change from a globalized economy, cell phones and social media, job-hopping, online dating, immigration, and uncertainty about our future health and wealth. Our social fabric seems to be shredding. Others observe that the social fabric of our communities and nation was never really woven to include everyone in the first place. Yet, there have been many times as a country when people looked past their surface differences and came together as neighbors to support each other.

We’ve come together today to get to know each other, share our experience of isolation and connection, and consider how we might work together to build connections that allow us to feel recognized, respected and valued.

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.

Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
 
Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
 
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
  
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
  
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.

Round 3: Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 4: Read the Topic Overview

Many people sense that something is broken in society. Surveys show about half of young adult Americans are lonely. Opioid addiction, suicide, gun violence, ethnic tension and depression have been rising. We face rapid change from a globalized economy, cell phones and social media, job-hopping, online dating, immigration, and uncertainty about our future health and wealth. Our social fabric seems to be shredding. Others observe that the social fabric of our communities and nation was never really woven to include everyone in the first place. Yet, there have been many times as a country when people looked past their surface differences and came together as neighbors to support each other.

We’ve come together today to get to know each other, share our experience of isolation and connection, and consider how we might work together to build connections that allow us to feel recognized, respected and valued.

Round 5: Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • Is it easy or hard for you to connect with others who were raised differently, or live and think differently than you? What have you seen getting in the way of that from happening?
  • Are there people in your community you feel close to? What makes you feel close?
  • Describe a time, if ever, when you saw your neighborhood come together to have fun or face a common challenge.
  • What do you think could be done to help bring your community together?
  • What connection, if any, do you see between what is happening in our nation and what is happening in our neighborhoods or communities?

Round 6: Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Round 7: Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!): 

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

What, generally, makes a good conversation? Many things: an alive topic of interest to all, an open and receptive mood, people willing to listen as much as speak, a willingness to drop preconceptions and explore many different ideas, a comfortable setting in which people can easily hear each other, a group small enough for everyone to speak. At its best, such conversation gets deeper and richer the longer it can be sustained. 

Round 1: Introductions, Guidelines, and Why We're Here

Host: State the chosen theme or topic for the Café. Come to agreement about an ending time (90 minutes is best, 60 minutes at minimum). If someone has to leave early, it’s important to know in advance so the group will not be disrupted.

Host: Regarding latecomers: In case people drift in and join after the starting time, remind them to mute. Allow newcomers to just observe and then join in when their turn comes.

All: Each person should introduce themself and say where they are joining from.  Also let the group know if you have to leave early for any reason.

Round 2: Review the Conversation Agreements

Each participant can volunteer to read one of the agreements out loud. After reading the agreements, check to make sure all participants confirm the agreements, or discuss as needed.

The introduction of these agreements begins to mark the shift from ordinary chit-chat to the wiser, generative depths at a slower pace of ‘being-in-time.’ 

  • Open-mindedness: listen to and respect all points of view. 
  • Acceptance: suspend judgment as best you can. 
  • Curiosity: seek to understand rather than persuade. 
  • Discovery: question assumptions, look for new insights. 
  • Sincerity: speak from your heart and personal experience. 
  • Brevity: go for honesty and depth but don’t go on and on. 

Round 3: Review the Talking Object

Host or volunteer: Read the following out loud to the group.

Talking Object is a powerful tool for creating equality: Everyone in the circle - on the screen - has an equal voice, an equal turn. As a listener in the circle, we know our task is to listen to whoever is designated as holding the Talking Object, without interjecting or commenting.

When we hold the Talking Object, we know we have the floor. We can pass if we don’t want to speak. Online, the "virtual Talking Object" is given to the person who is unmuted: all participants are on mute until it is their turn to speak. The transition of mute, unmute gives a nice slow pace to the round. Before beginning Round 1, invite people to be silent for a few moments to quiet their minds and collect their thoughts. 

Round 4: First Round of Conversation

Host or volunteer: Read the following out loud to the group.

Go around the circle once, inviting each to speak to what is in their heart and mind regarding the theme (people can pass if they like). Remarks should be succinct (1-2 min) to allow time for everyone to speak.

The speaker with the virtual Talking Object is the only unmuted participant. When they are through speaking, they mute themselves and the next person unmutes. 

Listen to each person, with no feedback or response. It’s not necessary for their comments to match the previous ones – a time will come when we are more conversational. 

Round 5: Second Round of Conversation

Host or volunteer: Read the following out loud to the group.

Go around the circle again, with the Talking Object, giving each person another chance to speak without feedback or response.  

During this round, people may deepen their own comments or speak to what has meaning for them now; they can also respond to what others have said. 

(OR – there may be a different question for the Second Round). 

Request that everyone keep their comments brief so that most of the time will be available for the open back and forth that follows the second round. Still no crosstalk in this round. 

Round 6: The Middle of the Conversation

Host:  Now it is time to open up the conversation. Unmute everyone and let the conversation begin. Suggest that speakers raise their hand to indicate they want to speak next (briefly and not in a distracting way); and offer that whoever is speaking can hand off to the next speaker by naming them.

Host or volunteer: Read the following out loud to the group.

Seek to follow and enrich the thread of new meaning and insights that arise – rather than enforcing any topic. It’s fine to end up somewhere unexpected and different from the initial question! 

Mind the Time: About five or ten minutes before the final round time (i.e. 15 to 20 minutes before ending time), tell the group it is time to begin to bring the conversation to a close. 

Round 7: Final Round of Conversation

Host or volunteer: invite each person to briefly express what they are taking from this conversation. Ask each participant, what touched, moved, inspired or challenged you? As in the first two rounds, use the virtual Talking Object.

All: After sharing and reflecting, close by thanking each other.  Then, share the story of your Cafe!

Post on social media using hashtags #ConvoCafe and #WeavingCommunity so that our team can help share, too. Invite participants to learn more about Conversation Cafe at https://www.conversationcafe.org. They may wish to host their own Cafe! Everyone is also welcome to become a part of the community of Conversation Cafe hosts.

Please fill out the brief form at http://www.conversationcafe.org/main-survey/ and let us know how you would like to engage. 

Use this conversation guide to organize a virtual gathering of friends, family, or members of your community. 

This conversation guide accompanies The People's Supper Guidebook, which contains everything you need to gather virtually, in response to COVID-19: suggestions on how to reach out to your community (and what to do if you’re feeling alone), facilitation tips and suggested conversation-starters, guidelines for successful online gatherings, and resources for how you can help those most in need right now. 

Round 1: Say Hello as Folks Join

Hosts: Say hello as folks join. As with in-person gatherings, give people a grace window to arrive, in case a few are running late. It’s important to make people feel welcome: Say hello to each person (by name), and encourage casual conversation as folks join, though it’s okay for folks to mute their line and turn off video while they wait, too. 

Round 2: Welcome Everyone to the Virtual Table

Host: Introduce yourself and share why you wish to gather.

Round 3: Share the Ground Rules

Host or volunteer should read the following aloud:

We will start by reviewing the Ground Rules. These ground rules aren’t meant to box you in, they are meant to provide a sense of shared way of being during our time together.

Each participant can then volunteer to read one of the following aloud:

  1. Be present. We often look at video chats as a chance to multitask. If you can, we encourage you to turn off other notifications during our time together, and to resist the urge to shift between tabs on a computer screen, or to engage in other tasks around you.
  2. Stick with “I” statements and avoid advice-giving unless someone requests it. Your experience is yours and please honor and respect that others’ experiences are theirs. Putting this to practice is hard work: It means, in the words of our friends at The Center for Courage & Renewal, “no fixing, saving, advising or correcting each other.” (And if you want advice, or you’re eager to learn about others’ strategies and practices, just ask.) 
  3. Be patient and respectful with speaking turns and speaking times. During voice calls, it’s not unusual that meeting participants start talking over each other. Notice that you’re talking more than others? Step back and give other voices a chance to be heard. Know that we welcome silence just as much as we welcome speech, and ask only that when you speak, you do so intentionally. 
  4. Beware erasure. Empathy isn’t “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” It’s appreciating how very different it is to walk in my shoes than it is in your shoes. We know how powerful the words "me, too" can be, but be careful to avoid what researcher and civil rights leader john a. powell calls “saming”: “I don’t see race,” or “I don’t see disability,” or trying to relate to something you can’t. (“My partner died.” “Oh, I know exactly what you’re feeling. My parakeet died.”) Sometimes the single best thing we can do for one another is simply to listen. 
  5. Keep things confidential. What’s said here stays here. No quotes or identifying details will be shared without permission.

Round 4: Read Brave Space

Host or volunteer should read the following aloud:

AN INVITATION TO BRAVE SPACE
by Micky ScottBey Jones

Together we will create brave space
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space” —
We exist in the real world.
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love.
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be.
But
It will be our brave space together, and 
We will work on it side by side.

Round 5: Toasts and Blessings

Host: Invite everyone to close their eyes for 30 seconds, and to "think of someone in your life who’s having a hard time right now, and someone in your life who inspires you to be your best self." When everyone’s ready, invite them to open their eyes. 

Participants: All participants are invited to offer a toast or blessing to those who bring you courage. 

Round 6: Introductions

Host: Have everyone start with introductions. Our favorite: “Tell us your name, and the story behind that name.” 

If folks are joining from different areas, have them share where they’re calling from. 

As you get started, we recommend calling people by name to introduce themselves.

Round 7: Check-in

Host: To start, keep it simple.  Ask every participant to answer, "How are you feeling?" Be prepared to share first, then invite others to contribute.

Round 8: Introduce Question 2

Host: Read the following prompt aloud. Answer the prompt along with other participants.

Take a few moments to think about a moment of struggle or hardship. What did you do that helped you get through it? How did this experience leave you changed?

Participants: Take turns answering the prompt.

Round 9: Introduce Question 3

Host: Read the following prompt aloud. Answer the prompt along with other participants.

Describe a person who’s bringing you hope right now, or someone who simply makes you proud of your community.

Participants: Take turns answering the prompt.

Round 10: Closing and Reflection

Host: Read the following prompt aloud. Answer the prompt along with other participants.

What’s one thing you will do to build and sustain connection and unity in your community both now and after coronavirus has passed? (Credit: Our friends at National Conversation Project).

Participants: Take turns answering the prompt.

During this time of physical distancing, we can still be connected. In fact, the current crisis is sparking deep, rich, meaningful conversations all across our country. Technology can play a constructive role in enabling us to meet across distance, even face-to-face.

Want to host a conversation among your neighbors, friends, or family? Here’s all you need! The suggested conversation prompts and guidelines below were collaboratively developed by many of our partners, reflecting their collective experience creating conversations in communities across America. Make sure you add your conversation to the Weaving homepage map so we can celebrate you #WeavingCommunity!

To host a conversation up to 60 minutes in length, skip the "optional round" described in this guide. To host a conversation up to 80 minutes in length (or longer), complete all rounds. You can also vary the conversation length by skipping, shortening, or extending any round as your group prefers. 

Round 1: Say Hello as People Join

Greet each other as the conversation group gets underway.  Review the following best practices together:

  • Mute when not speaking, to minimize background noise.
  • Keep video on (unless calling in via phone) to maximize human connection.
  • Be mindful of individual speaking time, round timing, and total time to ensure the conversation fits the allotted schedule.
  • Click through the conversation rounds together, as a group, guided verbally by one or more designated facilitators (anyone can be a facilitator).

Round 2: Review the Conversation Guidelines

Take turns as a group reading each one of these conversation guidelines aloud.  Afterwards, discuss and clarify any guidelines as needed.  Ensure agreement before moving to next round.

  • We will be present and not multitask.
  • We will avoid assumptions about others and listen first to understand them.
  • We will give time and encourage all voices, no matter how quiet or different.
  • We will trust each other to speak honestly.
  • We will respect each other’s fears and vulnerabilities.
  • We will be patient with those unfamiliar with technology.

Round 3: Get to Know Each Other

Each person should take 1-2 minutes to answer one of the following questions (each person can choose which question to answer):

  • Describe a time when you lived through a period of uncertainty.
  • Do you consider yourself a resilient person? When have you needed to be?
  • How do you find calm in difficult moments?

Round 4: Describe Your Community

Each person should take 1-2 minutes to answer one of the following questions (each person can choose which question to answer):

  • Do you have a place you call home? What makes it feel that way?
  • Are there neighbors you feel close to? What makes you feel close?
  • When has someone showed you an unexpected kindness?

Round 5: Reflect on the Current Crisis

Each person should take a few minutes to answer one of the following questions (each person can choose which question to answer, or combine more than one question into a single response):

  • How are you feeling?
  • How has your life changed due to the coronavirus? 
  • What has been the biggest shift in your everyday routine? 
  • What has surprised you during this time? 
  • What have been your biggest struggles or concerns?
  • Have you experienced any silver linings in the disruption?

Round 6: OPTIONAL: More Questions on the Current Crisis

These optional, additional questions extend the scheduled length of this conversation beyond 60 minutes.  If you choose to include this round, each person should take a few minutes to answer one of the following questions (each person can choose which question to answer, or combine more than one question into a single response):

  • Have you had to get creative to make do? How?
  • What is happening with your connection to your family or community? 
  • What are you doing to maintain a sense of normalcy?
  • Is there anything or anyone you are appreciating more than you did before the crisis?
  • Have you seen anything inspiring?

Round 7: Weaving Community During Crisis

Each person should take 3-4 minutes to answer one of the following questions (each person can choose which question to answer, or combine more than one question into a single response):

  • Is there someone you think is doing a great job supporting people during this time? Who are they? How are they doing it?
  • Do you feel certain people in your community might need extra support in this crisis?
  • Is there something you are already doing or could start doing to sustain relationships during this crisis?
  • Are there opportunities for you to connect with others who are different?
  • What will you do to sustain, build and support connection and unity in your community, both now and after coronavirus has passed?

Round 8: Share Appreciations and Say Goodbye

Before closing, go around the group and invite each person to share an appreciation, reflection, or takeaway from the conversation that has just taken place. Once your conversation has concluded, please complete the following steps:

  • Designate one participant to pin your conversation to the #Weaving home page interactive map
  • All participants please complete this quick, confidential survey to share your feedback about this conversation.
  • To exit this conversation, just close your browser tab.

This guide, developed by Living Room Conversations and adapted by the WIN Network, offers a starting point for reflecting on the personal and community impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Please modify the questions and guidelines as needed to meet the requirements of your group.

Round 1: Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has one minute to introduce themselves.

Share your name, why you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Round 2: Agreements: How We'll Engage

These agreements will set the tone of our conversation. Invite a participant to read the text below.

Dialogue strengthens our sense of belonging and connection by building relationships. When we listen, share, and discover, we are able to create meaning together.

No matter the topic, dialogue partners need to enter the conversation with intention by:
  • Listening for what's true for others
  • Sharing what's true for you
  • Discovering what we share in common

Explore additional conversation agreements from Living Room Conversations. 

Round 3: Conversation Warm-Up: Personal Impact of Coronavirus

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of the questions below.

  • What is the most significant way coronavirus has impacted your family relationships or working life?
  • What are some creative ways you are building connections during this time of physical distancing?

Round 4: Conversation Preview: Community Impact of Coronavirus

One participant can volunteer to read this paragraph:

The rapidly-spreading virus is touching all aspects of our personal and community life. Our health, civic, social, work,
academic, faith and financial systems are struggling to cope with uncertainty and the need for rapid readjustment. We
are physically distancing ourselves from each other to prevent being infected or spreading the infection. As we move
forward in this changing environment, it can be helpful to share our experiences and to consider the potential outcomes
from our shared national challenge.

Round 5: Conversation Questions: Community Impact of Coronavirus

Take ~2 minutes each to answer one of the questions below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has
answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional
questions as time allows.

  • What has the coronavirus revealed about your community or neighborhood (e.g., strengths or challenges)?
    • Who in your community is most vulnerable to isolation or who has limited access to vital conditions (e.g., food, housing, employment, sense of belonging)?
  • What have you had to sacrifice because of coronavirus and how is it affecting you?
    • How does sacrifice impact community members differently?
    • Have there been other times in your life that you/your community had to sacrifice (and what did you learn from it)?
  • What is coronavirus teaching us about social connection and belonging?
  • What about the coronavirus crisis gives you hope?
    • What positive changes do you hope will come out of the pandemic?

Round 6: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the questions below.

• What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this dialogue?
• Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?