This Conversation was created to accompany the first episode of the six-part series, “Next Door Strangers,” a podcast “about finding connection in a time of division.” It’s produced by KUER, NPR-Utah. We offer this definition of “tribalism” in the introduction to this Conversation Guide: “the behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group.” The introduction continues: “People Left and Right may disagree on many things, but we generally agree “tribalism” is bad for our politics and our country. Although most want communities where all people have dignity and respect, respectful interactions are often not what we see modeled in the media and in politics. How do we build strong and unified communities in a divisive time?”
Hunger is a topic especially timely for the holiday season. We are actively thinking of and donating food to those who need it during this season. But what about beyond the season?
Living Room Conversations has long had a Conversation Guide on Food. Recently, Khirstian Howard, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with Baylor University’s Hunger Free Community Corps, working at the Texas Hunger Initiative’s central office in Waco, Texas, created a Conversation on Hunger and Health, inspired by our original Conversation on Food. I find it a powerful Conversation, especially thought-provoking at the holidays. Here is its introduction:
We all want to ensure that everyone in our community has access to healthy, consistently available food options. The purpose of this Living Room Conversation about Hunger and Health is to share perspectives on food insecurity in our community, and to create new relationships between people who do not currently share the same viewpoints. We also want to encourage new ideas, opportunities, and sustained participation in solutions that will benefit this community.
I was fascinated to learn the origins of this Conversation, so I interviewed Khirstian, who explains, “My work involves building a hunger-free community coalition in East Waco. While attending a public deliberations conference at Baylor University, I participated in a Living Room Conversation on Race, which was facilitated by Ramona Curtis. This was my first time experiencing this type of structured dialogue, and I was introduced to the different perspectives of my counterparts in a non-intimidating way.
In my work, it’s important for me to understand the perspectives of the community I serve, and I thought a Living Room Conversation would be the perfect avenue for this. I decided to tailor a new conversation on hunger and health because there was specific information that I wanted to gather from the community I serve in East Waco.
When we hosted the Conversation on November 28, the input was surprising and encouraging. It became clear that coming together in a safe space was necessary in order to uncover the shared value: increasing access to healthier foods in East Waco. The participants made connections with one another, and we were able to come away with a core group for the coalition and a group that was willing to participate in more living room conversations.”
What Conversations do you need in your community?
Beth G. Raps, Phd
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