Local Conversations Event Resources
Rami Nashashibi + Lucas Johnson
Sarah Bassin and Abdullah Antepli
Patrisse Cullors and Robert Ross
Anand Giridharadas and Whitney Kimball Coe
Padraig O Tuama
Diversity & Resilience
Natasha Tretheway and Eboo Patel
PoliticS, CURRENT EVENTS & MORE
Natasha Tretheway and Eboo Patel
Derek Black and Matthew Stevenson
How Can I Say This So That We Stay in This Car Together?
Frequently Asked Questions
Why use a podcast?
We have found that when a group comes together to have meaningful conversations about deeply held beliefs, it helps to have a common reference to build upon. Listening to the podcast segment together gives everyone an opportunity to pause, think about what is being said, and reference back to this source during the conversation that follows. We have found that listening to podcast content, in particular, invites participants to slow down and really listen – reducing distractions by focusing one’s attention on a human voice.
Do I need to attend all of the facilitator trainings?
You only need to attend one training date to become a Civil Conversations facilitator. Each of the trainings are half-day, and include additional online resources and staff support to help you plan your local conversation.
What should I do after the training?
We hope that every person who attends the Civil Conversations Facilitator Training will then put these ideas into practice by organizing a local conversation in their own community. This can take many different forms-- integration into existing programming, partnering with another trained facilitator, etc. We encourage you to use our online facilitator resources and reach out to our program staff for support as you plan your event.
How many people should I invite / hope to have attend?
We have found that a group of about 12-15 people works well, but groups as small as six or seven and groups as large as sixty have also used this model well.
How can I be sure people with different backgrounds / perspectives are welcome?
The way you plan your event can have a significant effect on the tone of the conversation. Some things to consider might be:
Think about what your goals are for this conversation, and whose voices need to be included. This is a good time to think about the different types of diversity that exist within your community that you may not have considered before (one example is intergenerational diversity).
Consider co-leading the conversation with someone who comes from a different background or perspective on the issue at hand.
Identify who the ‘bridge people’ are in your community or network; think about those with relationships in multiple communities who might be willing to partner on one or more events.
Logistically, do your best to make the event as accessible as possible. Think about what time of day you want to hold the event, whether your location is accessible by public transit, and what dietary or worship needs there may be. Ask attendees what their accessibility needs are. You may not be able to accommodate every need, but making an effort to have your event be as accessible as possible will encourage a wider diversity of voices in the room, and help those present to feel more welcome.
Does my Civil Conversation need to be about interfaith work?
Our resources and offerings will generally speak to issues of interfaith life and work. However, we hope that you will explore the full catalogue of On Being episodes and choose a topic that you want to bring to your community, whether it is related to interfaith dialogue or not.
When should my event be?
Our plan is to have most of these events happen before the live recording of On Being on April 29th, but you are welcome to have your event after that time as well.
Do you expect me to try to have civil conversations with extremists?
No. Our goal is to spark meaningful conversations about deeply held beliefs among people who may hold important differences, but who are ultimately coming together in good faith. We believe that those who advocate for violence are not acting in good faith, and that your safety is more important than getting the widest possible range of voices in the room.
But then aren't we just talking to ourselves?
We have found in our work that there is often a greater diversity of beliefs within a group than you might think. Even among people who share a particular identifier like “liberal” or “conservative”, or belong to the same religious group or denomination, there are often important differences worth exploring. Additionally, one goal of this project is to encourage people to practice the skills needed for meaningful dialogue, which they will then carry throughout their lives. Getting practice having these kinds of conversations can be deeply meaningful, even if they don’t include people who are at the absolute opposite ends of an issue. That being said, this is your event and your community, and we hope you will feel empowered to organize it in the way you think will be the most enriching.