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Catalyst Entry: “Crowd Sourcing Transpartisan Dialogue”

This project is about creating an online space where average Americans can find and share resources and experiences that will empower and support them in holding Living Room Conversations –  self-facilitated, face-to-face political bridge building dialogues in intimate settings. The online space will also provide an easy connection to the resources and assistance of the dialogue and deliberation community.


Amanda Kathryn Roman
Co-Founder of Living Room Conversations

Joan Blades
Co-Founder of Living Room Conversations, Moms Rising & MoveOn.org


This virtual space will empower average Americans to start building connections across partisan lines but it is really a connecting point to the resources & skills within our field. The entire LRC project is open-source so the virtual Living Room is a place to foster experimentation & cross-learning without worry about who owns what. It’s a common creation in a shared experiment in bottoms-up change.


Mary Jacksteit
Public Conversations Project
Will collaborate in development of new discussion formats for the website and other content [feedback questions, etc.] and seek opportunities to test new formats — currently investigating a good prospect for food and nutrition.

Jacob Hess
Volunteered to help with developing metrics for Living Room Conversations and is planning to host a second Living Room Conversation and continue to blog on his experiences.

Debilyn Molineax
5 Minute Citizen
Will create a page that will enable Living Room Conversation participants to learn about and when they wish connect with facilitation processes that would enable deep facilitated work on issues when there is demand.

Michele Holt-Shanon
New Hampshire Listens
Will facilitate another round of Living Room Conversations in New Hampshire (post-election) and facilitate the feedback loop of participants through the website.

Susan Clark
Submitting a proposal with Joan Blades to present on Slow Democracy and Living Room Conversations at this Year’s NetRoots Nation.

Eric Liu
Invited Joan Blades to present to the Citizen’s University in March and suggests sending attendees home with a call to co-host a Living Room Conversation and share their experiences in the virtual Living Room.


A challenge in our field is scaling to the level that is sufficient to really shift the polarized political dynamics of our country. Our field needs to break down the silos we find ourselves in too often by inviting non-professionals into the work and LRCs are an easy access point. We need to empower thousands of average Americans to experience bridge-building without the prerequisite of being convened by someone else. Given the low level of trust and expectations in our political atmosphere, there will be many who won’t respond to a convening at all.

The Living Room Conversations project is a social experiment – quite successful so far – to see if the necessary scale can be built by a web-based platform that is aimed at the public. The co-founders and advisory committee for LRC represents a spectrum of liberal to conservative views so we believe we can draw participation across the political continuum which will be further enhanced as people see and hear stories form others with whom they identify.

LRCs are designed to empower individuals and communities to have cross-partisan conversations that they feel a need for but have been too intimidated to try. Early conversations have been very encouraging. This year, a broad spectrum of hosts can try conversations, adapting the materials to fit their needs and then sharing what they learn through the website so that we all collectively learn and improve our processes.

The virtual Living Room will provide the online space to empower average Americans to do the work of political bridge-building in their own communities. Simultaneously, NCDD members will be able to work collaboratively to hone ground rules, share success stories, highlight common ground solutions, walk through ways to handle potential conflicts and provide avenues for average people to tap into the wisdom of the people in the field of transpartisan politics as well as dialogue and deliberation.
Living Room Conversations tap social networks – friends and friends of friends – so that there is increased capacity to create connections across partisan lines. LRCs offer a simple, safe structure for building relationships across political divides and then opening up to an infinite variety of conversations… and eventually, we hope, solutions that work for all.

Detailed Plan…

  • Contract with Jon Katz for the technical website work necessary
  • Contract with Amanda Kathryn Roman to serve as the project manager
  • Set a timetable for new content to be developed and added
  • Amanda Kathryn Roman and Joan Blades will convene collaborators (listed and new) via a minimum of 3 conference calls and for 3 months via online work space
  • Expected date of collaborative launch of virtual Living Room: May 2013
  • Work with collaborators (listed and new) to encourage more people to co-host Living Room Conversations and join the online community in the virtual Living Room in sharing their experiences and connecting with others
  • Incorporate metrics to continually review and improve the LRC process
  • Refer members of the online Living Room community to other dialogue and deliberation processes and individuals within the field for additional bridge-building opportunities
  • Support the virtuous offline to online to offline to online, etc. cycle of access to resources, people and shared community for those doing political bridge-building work rooted in transpartisan dialogue

Since this is an open-source project, it is meant to be collaborative and experimental on all levels including the decision making process.

Link to your Catalyst Awards page on CivicEvolution:

Link to Additional Web Presence
This project proposal was inspired by version 1.0 of www.LivingRoomConversations.org.

Questions? Email Amanda at amandakathrynroman@gmail.com.