Talking about . . . united or divided? where do we go from here?
The last few presidential elections have revealed a deep desire for change in our country. Yet, this desire for change has been accompanied by increasing divisiveness about which changes are most urgent, how to achieve them, and the roles and limitations of government, businesses, and nonprofit and faith organizations in realizing them. The 2016 presidential election has galvanized many people (and in particular, women) to engage in civic action for the first time, with the result of both empowering and polarizing individuals and communities. In light of this need and opportunity, we have crafted the following Living Room Conversation with the intention of gathering individuals from a variety of political viewpoints to discuss their hopes and dreams, and to discuss what a common agenda for change would look like. We imagine this as a "transpartisan" agenda that represents all sides of the political spectrum and makes explicit the fact that a wide range of opinions fall within and between the traditional labels of "Republican" and "Democrat."
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Background reading (optional)
While you don't need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
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Want to listen to an actual Living Room Conversation?
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Now that you are all together, here we go!
This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.
Before you begin your conversation, please go over the Conversation Ground Rules with your participants.
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One. Why are we here?
What interested you or drew you to this topic?
Two. Your core values
- what sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
- what would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
- what are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
Three. Your thoughts and concerns.
Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions and goals.
- What core values and issues do you think all Americans can 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?
- If you could change one thing about our country today, what would you change?
- If you were creating a transpartisan agenda for change, what else would be on it?
- 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?
Five. Accomplishment and moving forward
- 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?
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