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Living Room Conversations in Action

Living Room Conversation

Living Room Conversation in Action (photo from Citizens4selfgovernance.org)

NCDD member Joan Blades, co-founder of the dialogue program Living Room Conversations, as well as the immensely popular MoveOn.org, contacted us this week about a recent gathering of folks on both sides of the political divide, exemplifying the central goal of Living Room Conversations, bringing people together from both sides of the aisle to talk civilly about hot button issues.

Although the gathering included a journalist to help publicize both Living Room Dialogues and the need to encourage conversations to bridge the political divide in this country, the participants were there to share, as Joan explains in a blog post on Huffingtonpost.com

This was a conversation that was a bit different than the standard Living Room Conversation because we had a reporter present and because of Mark and my roles in the conservative and progressive movement.  I thanked everyone profusely for their willingness to have a public Living Room Conversation and we dug in.  Mark asked me to tell his friends how MoveOn started and then we wanted to hear from Mark about how he helped start Tea Party Patriots.  Generally we followed the suggested structure for a Living Room Conversation but to some extent Round two and three blurred together.   This worked fine with a group that it turned out had no adversarial vibe at all. We were curious about each other and really wanted to understand how we might work together to make our democracy and our communities more successful.

And it seems to have worked.  Mark Meckler, the Tea Party leader representing the right, acknowledged the differences in a blog post on Citizens4selfgovernance.org, while supporting the need for more conversation…

There are many things that divide us politically, and when the time comes, we’ll all still have our very partisan fights about those. But we can’t continue to buy into the overall politics of hate, perpetrated upon us by politicians and others in the ruling elite who find it quite profitable to keep us apart in order to maintain the status quo. When it serves the interests of “We the People,” we need to stand together and remind the politicians, they work for us, not the other way around.  Joan’s Living Room Conversations are intended to foster this approach, and I look forward to participating in many more.

You can read more about the conversation in an article written for the San Francisco Chronicle which goes into detail about the genesis of this conversation and the other participants present.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. Congratulations to Joan Blades for developing Living Room Conversations and all the good thought and planning to encourage grassroots people to encourage ordinary folk to hold one of these conversations. I enjoyed reading the conversation with people from Move-on and The Tea Party patriots. See theit website and get involved. Looks like a lot of fun!

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