By Bogdan Matuszynski
Over the weekend of March 31st several brave San Diegans and local leaders came together at the Museum of Man to get out of their comfort zone and have discussions around Guns & Responsibility, Talking Politics, American Culture, and The Opportunity Gap through a guided conversation format called Living Room Conversations.
What is a Living Room Conversation? It's when hosts from different viewpoints invite others to join together for structured conversation on a specific topic. There are typically six to eight people at each table, and they discuss topics beginning with surface level conversation that leads to building rapport, followed by trust, then sharing personal experiences with the topic. The goal is not to change minds, rather find common ground.
Some participants expressed anxiousness and that they were triggered by some opposing comments or individuals. Despite this, most expressed that they would like to engage in another conversation and get more community members involved.
Personally, I have facilitated seven small group Living Room Conversations on different topics and each one has been a unique experience, for better or worse. Yet, my learning from others by listening as they share their experiences and assessing my own values and biases is a life long learning process. I am also energized by the transformations that take place for participants and their inspiration to not be afraid to connect to someone different.
We encourage you to host or attend a Living Room Conversation during the National Week of Conversation from April 20 - April 28, 2018 with Humankind San Diego, within your organization, or within your network. The objective is to have people all over America participate in conversations that prioritize understanding each other across political, social-economic and cultural divides. Each person who listens first to understand the other tips the scales toward a stronger future for our nation. In conversations—and the relationships they build—is hope for mending the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides.
The opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration are endless and we look forward to assisting you with your needs and interests. Here's a link to the resources provided by Living Room Conversations: https://www.livingroomconversations.org/get-involved/