In these tumultuous times, I – like many others – have returned to the importance of conversations as an engine for social change. The fractured and polarized state of American public discourse is both disappointing and disturbing. And as much as I want to blame Fox News, I know it’s not up to the other guy to change the conversation. It’s up to me. And you.
Whether we want to resist misguided policies, advance racial justice, or support immigrants in our communities, we need to have more productive conversations about difference, about our values, and about what binds our communities and our nation together. We have to engage in our personal lives – with our friends, our families, our colleagues at work, and our fellow parents in the PTA.
Conversation is the most fundamental form of connection we can forge. We may not come to agreement, we might not bond in lasting friendship, but we can most certainly grow from the exchange of ideas, values, cares, and concerns. And in this age of division, we need generous, deep listening and honest attempts at understanding.
If, like me, you want to change the conversation – both your own and the nation’s – here are a few ideas and resources that are sparking my thinking and giving me hope:
- This excellent post from Anusha Alikhan of the Knight Foundation offers an excellent reminder that to have uncomfortable conversations is actually a strategic communications imperative.
- A case study from Active Voice that highlights how dialog is social change in and of itself.
- A video from the Interaction Institute for Social Change on the Four Conversations that Build Community.
What conversations are you having with your community? And what change do you see as a result? Let us know in the comments!
Holly Minch, LightBox Collaborative’s Founding Partner, believes good conversations and good road trips have a lot in common.