Author Archives: Joan Blades

Our asset forfeiture laws are a mess, and they’re letting cops confiscate property. Left and right ought to agree on this one. “Don’t even bother getting a lawyer. The money always stays here.” That’s what the Tenaha Police Department told 27-year-old Arkansan James Morrow after they confiscated $3,900 from his car for “driving too close to the white line.” The police reported the “odor of burned marijuana,” though no drugs were found in the car. Morrow was carted off to jail, while the car was impounded. Read More...

September 20th I was invited to share the Living Room Conversations story at the Religions of the Earth Conference in NY preceding the climate march. I was thrilled because faith leaders are natural champions for respectful open-hearted civil engagement. These leaders were gathered to lift up the role of moral leadership in conserving nature for future generations. Read More...

Living Room Conversations are being used in ways we never imagined and we are fascinated! This is the glorious thing about open source projects, users adapt materials to better fit their needs and from these experiences we all learn. This year I’ve been privileged to observe Community Living Room Conversations about mental health. This particular variant embraced Living Room Conversations ground rules and has adapted the process to fit a bigger set of participants. The Contra Costa Health Read More...

Joan Blades and Grover Norquist It's time to get right on crime. There is gridlock in Congress. A Republican House can veto any progressive idea advanced by President Obama. The Democratic Senate and the presidential veto can shut down any conservative proposal by Republicans. Taxes are not likely to go up or down much for the next three years. Spending is largely set by the sequester. We know what cannot be accomplished because of gridlock. Read More Read More...

In March, Citizen's University invited us to share Living Room Conversations (LRC) in a wonderfully full workshop! Debilyn and I had an hour and a half. This was our first experiment with brief LRCs- not enough time for a full conversation, but good to get the flavor and a sense of possibilities. The brief conversations were a success - participants enjoyed hearing diverse perspectives and appreciated the safety of the conversations. Plus we have theories for how to make brief conversations better Read More...

As President Obama and Vice President Biden host a National Conference on Mental Health as part of their Administration's launch of a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health, I wanted to share about a “Community Living Room Conversation” that I observed in March. This Community LRC focused on improving Contra Costa CA’s public health system.  The conversation invited care providers, patients and patient’s families to participate in structured conversations Read More...

Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, and I, co-founder of MoveOn, had the opportunity to describe our Living Room Conversation about crony capitalism on stage with at Citizen University last month. The audience welcomed a story about friendship and agreement growing across partisan lines. Honestly we're pretty excited about it too. I'm told that our conversation was on the front page of the S.F. Chronicle in January because when Mark and I co-hosted a conversation with our friends it Read More...

Tea party and MoveOn activists joining voices to reinstate Glass-Steagal ?  That's not far-fetched..... this is common ground. I admit that I had butterflies in my stomach last week when I thought  about co-hosting a Living Room Conversation about crony capitalism with my friend Mark Meckler who is a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.  Talking to Mark on the phone over the last couple of years I've learned that I really like Mark personally and that we have remarkably different views on many Read More...

By: Joan Blades Some people say that Richard Lugar lost his Senate seat because he worked with Democrats. No wonder Congressional approval is at an all time low. Winning for politicians too often means failing the citizens they are employed to serve. Think budget crisis. Think immigration reform. Even judicial nominations have been radically politicized. Most of us agree that D.C. dynamics have got to change for the U.S. to solve the real challenges we confront and to retain our leadership role Read More...

By Joan Blades - My family figured out how to be out of sight Saturday afternoon while I co-hosted my second living room conversation. I was both anxious about and looking forward to our conversation about immigration. Our first conversation about money in politics allowed us to get to know each other sufficiently to realize that we like each other, as well as to appreciate what different perspectives we bring to our conversation. We used a tested structured format for our first Living Room Conversation. Read More...