Pocket Guide to Hosting Zine

Story Artist Mary Alice Arthur and graphic facilitator Viola Clark collaborated in 2016 to create the first in their Zine series – a POCKET GUIDE TO HOSTING. One side features the Art of Hosting practices, the other side features the AoH methods.  Here is a little snapshot of a couple of pages of the zine. (A zine is a self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier.)

Art of Hosting will be using the Zine in the upcoming trainings in Innsbruck, Austria and Denmark.

Next in the series will be Harvesting.

Mary Alice advises: “It is set up as an A4 (if you are not on the A4 system, shrink to fit the space) — follow the instructions for folding (and unleash your inner creative geek!).”

Resource Link: http://ncdd.org/rc/wp-content/uploads/AoHHostingZine.pdf

Civil Conversations Project

The Civil Conversations Project seeks to renew common life in a fractured and tender world. We are a conversation-based, virtues-based resource towards hospitable, trustworthy relationship with and across difference. We honor the power of asking better questions, model reframed approaches to entrenched debates, and insist that the ruptures above the radar do not tell the whole story of our time. We aspire to amplify and cross-pollinate the generative new realities that are also being woven, one word and one life at a time.

Better Conversations: a starter guide
It seems we are more divided than ever before — unable to speak across the differences we must engage to create the world we want for ourselves and others. We offer this guide as a resource for creating new spaces for listening, conversation, and engagement. We’ve created it as producers, but more as citizens, out of what we’ve learned in over a decade of conversation on On Being.

The seven-page pdf opens with an invitational letter from Krista Tippett, and provides a flexible roadmap for speaking together differently in a way that allows us to live together differently.

This guide is intended to help ground and animate a gathering of friends or strangers in a conversation that might take place over weeks or months. Adapt this guide for your group and your intentions, choosing a focus and readings you find meaningful and relevant.

Download the Better Conversations PDF here

From the guide…

Our young century is awash with questions of meaning, of how we structure our common life, and who we are to each other. It seems we are more divided than ever before – unable to speak across the differences we must engage to create the world we want for ourselves and our children.

Yet you and I have it in us to be nourishers of discernment, fermenters of healing. We have the language, the tools, the virtues – and the calling, as human beings – to create hospitable spaces for taking up the hard questions of our time.

This calling is too important and life-giving to wait for politics or media at their worst to come around. We can discover how to calm fear and plant the seeds of the robust civil society we desire and that our age demands.

This is civic work and it is human, spiritual work – in the most expansive 21st century sense of that language. We can learn for our time what moral imagination, social healing, and civil discourse can look like and how they work.

The Civil Conversations Project is a collection of audio, video, writings, and resources for planting new conversations in families and communities. How do we speak the questions we don’t know how to ask each other? Can we find ways to cross gulfs between us about politics and the meaning of community itself? How to engage our neighbors who have become strangers? Can we do that even while we continue to hold passionate disagreements on deep, contrasting convictions? How is technology playing into all this, and how can we shape it to human purposes? You will have your own questions – particular to your community and concerns – to add.

We insist on approaching civility as an adventure, not an exercise in niceness. It is a departure from ways of being and interacting that aren’t serving our age of change. This is a resource and reflection for beginning this adventure — creating new spaces for listening, conversation, and engagement. We’ve created it as producers, but more urgently as citizens.

Public life is bigger than political life. We have narrowly equated the two in recent years, and we’ve impoverished ourselves in the process. Public life includes all of our disciplines and endeavors, including our selves as citizens and professional people and neighbors and parents and friends. The places we’ve looked for leadership and modeling have become some of the most broken in our midst. And so it is up to us, where we live, to start having the conversations we want to be hearing and creating the realities we want to inhabit.

I have seen that wisdom, in life and society, emerges precisely through those moments when we have to hold seemingly opposing realities in a creative tension and interplay: power and frailty, birth and death, pain and hope, beauty and brokenness, mystery and conviction, calm and fierceness, mine and yours.

About On Being
On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.

Resource Link: www.civilconversationsproject.org/

The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter

The 300-page book, The World Cafe, was written by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs and published April 2005. In the first comprehensive book on the World Café, co-founders Brown and Isaacs introduce readers to this simple yet powerful conversational process for thinking together, evoking collective intelligence, and creating actionable results.

Beautifully illustrated with stories contributed by World Café practitioners, this is still the most definitive compendium of Café Know-How available.

Available in Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese, Simple Chinese, Complex Chinese, German, Korean, and Thai. Below is an excerpt from the foreword of the book, which can be purchased on the World Café site here.

From the foreword…

We Can Be Wise Only Together
By Margaret J Wheatley

The World Café process reawakens our deep species memory of two fundamental beliefs about human life. First, we humans want to talk together about things that matter to us. In fact, this is what gives satisfaction and meaning to life. Second, as we talk together, we are able to access a greater wisdom that is found only in the collective.

The World Café in Action
As you read the stories and counsel in this book, you will see these two beliefs brought to life in the Café process. In order to provoke your exploration of them, I’d like to underline some of the dimensions of the Café process that bring these beliefs into vibrant, healthy reality.

Belief in Everybody
The World Café is a good, simple process for bringing people together around questions that matter. It is founded on the assumption that people have the capacity to work together, no matter who they are. For me, this is a very important assumption. It frees us from our current focus on personality types, learning styles, emotional IQ—all the popular methods we currently use to pre-identify and pre-judge people. Each of these typologies ends up separating and stereotyping people. This is not what was intended by their creators, but it is what has happened. The Café process has been used in many different cultures, among many different age groups, for many different purposes, and in many different types of communities and organizations. It doesn’t matter who the people are—the process works. It works because people can work well together, can be creative and caring and insightful when they’re actively engaged in meaningful conversations around questions that count. I hope that these stories inspire us to move away from all the categories and stereotypes we currently use about who should be involved, who should attend a meeting—all the careful but ill-founded analysis we put into constructing the “right” group. We need to be focused on gathering the real diversity of the system, but that’s quite different from being absorbed with these other sorting devices.

Diversity
It’s important to notice the diversity of the places and purposes for which the World Café is used, and the diversity of participants who are encouraged to attend World Café gatherings. These pages contain a rich illustration of a value I live by: we need to depend on diversity. Including diversity well is a survival skill these days, because there’s no other way to get an accurate picture of any complex problem or system. We need many eyes and ears and hearts engaged in sharing perspectives. How can we create an accurate picture of the whole if we don’t honor the fact that we each see something different because of who we are and where we sit in the system? Only when we have many different perspectives do we have enough information to make good decisions. And exploring our differing perspectives always brings us closer together. One Café member said it well: “You’re moving among strangers, but it feels as if you’ve known these people for a long time.” Invitation In every World Café, there’s a wonderful feeling of invitation. Attention is paid to creating hospitable space. But the hospitality runs much deeper. It is rooted in the host’s awareness that everyone is needed, that anyone might contribute something that suddenly sparks a collective insight. Café facilitators are true hosts—creating a spirit of welcome that is missing from most of our processes. It’s important to notice this in the stories here, and to contrast it with your own experience of setting up meetings and processes. What does it feel like to be truly wanted at an event, to be greeted by meeting hosts who delight in your presence, to be welcomed in as a full contributor?

Listening
When people are engaged in meaningful conversation, the whole room reflects curiosity and delight. People move closer physically, their faces exhibit intense listening, and the air becomes charged with their attention to each other. A loud, resonant quiet develops, broken by occasional laughter. It becomes a challenge to call people back from these conversations (which I always take as a good sign).

Movement
In the World Café process, people generally move from table to table. But it’s much more than physical movement. As we move, we leave behind our roles, our preconceptions, our certainty. Each time we move to a new table, we lose more of ourselves and become bigger—we now represent a conversation that happened among several people. We move away from a confining sense of self and our small certainties into a spaciousness where new ideas can reveal themselves. As one participant describes it: “It’s almost as if you don’t know where the thought came from because it has merged so many times that it has been molded and shaped and shifted with new dimensions. People are speaking for each other and using words that started somewhere else that they hadn’t thought of before.” We also move into a greater awareness as we look for connections amongst the conversations, as we listen to voices other than our own. Patterns become apparent. Things we couldn’t see from our own narrow perspective suddenly become obvious to the entire group.

Good Questions
World Café dialogues, like all good conversations, succeed or fail based on what we’re talking about. Good questions—ones that we care about and want to answer—call us outward and to each other. They are an invitation to explore, to venture out, to risk, to listen, to abandon our positions. Good questions help us become both curious and uncertain, and this is always the road that opens us to the surprise of new insight.

Energy
I’ve never been in a World Café that was dull or boring. People become energized, inspired, excited, creative. Laughter is common, playfulness abounds even with the most serious of issues. For me this is proof positive of how much we relish being together, of how wonderful it is to rediscover the fact of human community. As one host from a very formal culture says: “My faith in people has been confirmed. Underneath all the formal ways of the past, people really want to have significant conversations. People everywhere truly love to talk with each other, learn together, and make a contribution to things they care about.”

Discovering Collective Wisdom
These are some of the Café dimensions that bring out the best in us. But this is only half the story. World Café conversations take us into a new realm, one that has been forgotten in modern, individualistic cultures. It is the realm of collective intelligence, of the wisdom we possess as a group that is unavailable to us as individuals. This wisdom emerges as we get more and more connected with each other, as we move from conversation to conversation, carrying the ideas from one conversation to another, looking for patterns, suddenly surprised by an insight we all share. There’s a good scientific explanation for this, because this is how all life works. As separate ideas or entities become connected to each other, life surprises us with emergence—the sudden appearance of new capacity and intelligence. All living systems work in this way. We humans got confused and lost sight of this remarkable process by which individual actions, when connected, lead to much greater capacity.

About World CaféWorld Cafe_logo
Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

Follow on Twitter: @TWCcommunity

Resource Link: www.theworldcafe.com/world-cafe-book/

Red Blue Dictionary

The Red Blue Dictionary, in partnership with Allsides, is a collaborative effort with dozens of dialogue experts from the NCDD network, to create a site that gives definitions for a wide variety of words to help those all across the political spectrum better understand each other.

The idea for the website stemmed from the “Red Blue Dialogue brainstorming session” at the 2012 NCDD conference in Seattle, where Joan Blades, Amanda Roman and Jacob Hess decided to further develop the idea. Living Room Conversations, in early 2016, continued to support the effort by funding Jacob Hess to develop the site. Since then, all contributions to flesh out the Red Blue dictionary have been on a volunteer basis. You can peruse some of the highlight of the Red Blue dictionary below and find the full site here.

From the site…

This guide to America’s contested vocabulary has been written by a politically diverse team of 30 contributors from the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation. Inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s Team of Rivals, our editorial and contributor teams draw together dialogue experts from maximally diverse backgrounds: religious & atheist, liberal & conservative, Marxist & capitalist, anarchist & libertarian, independent & partisan, hippie & traditionalist, Neil Diamond fans & the rest of us.

Are Americans losing the capacity to disagree in healthy ways? If so, how can we restore (and preserve) our civic ecosystem?

What would it mean to get curious about our differences? (and maybe even smile a little..)

Welcome to a Less-Painful, More Enjoyable Conversation

TOPIC-SPECIFIC TALKING-TIPS
Overwhelmed at the thought of venturing into contested word-territory. Have no fear! Issue-specific guides have been created to lay the groundwork to get you moving.

DIALOGUE EXAMPLES
And you thought super-heroes were cool? Buckle up…because these dialogue pioneers are going to rock your world.

REAL-TIME WORD WATCHERS
Every day some word seems to take on a new meaning…or lose an old…or become weaponized. We’re keeping an eye on that (78 eyes, to be exact) – to help you stay on top of it all!

ACCESSIBLE, EASY-READING
Worried about slipping into some college textbook? Don’t be. We’ve written textbooks before and don’t like them either…!

POLITICAL HUMOR
When was the last time you had a good belly laugh? Beware – because we’re coming after you with political bumper-stickers (and lots of other giggle-provocateurs).

TROLL-PROOF COMMENT SYSTEM
Tired of spending your life listening in to ONE more nasty-aggressive-mean-spirited comment? (Us too) We came across an innovator with the answer…and we think you’re gonna like it!

JUICY QUESTIONS
Tired of (more) small-talk at family parties? Pull one of these mind-popping inquiries out and let the (better) times roll!

WORD MAPS
Confused at why that word means X to THEM and Y to THOSE PEOPLE? Lucky for you! We got some of THEM and THOSE PEOPLE to collaborate on a guide to help us make sense of it all…hope it’s helpful!

CONVERSATION CATALYSTS
Stumped with a word (or person-using-a-word) that you really-cannot-fathom? Check out some of our suggested links to videos and other reading sure to liven (and loosen) things up a bit…

Categorical
The following categories are offered as another way to help orient readers to the terms, which are otherwise organized alphabetically. These categories are organized thematically in general idea clusters – with each term potentially showing up more than once across the different categories:

Race, Ethnicity & Class
Food, Environment & Health
Gender, Sexuality & Family
Life, Death & Conflict
Spirituality, Religion & Doubt
Money, Power & Freedom
Government Systems & Agencies
American History & Tradition
U.S.-World Relations
Education, Learning & Knowledge
Hostility, Dialogue & Peace
Judgment, Interpretation & Deliberation
Liberal & Progressive Thinking
Conservative & Traditional Thinking
U.S. Elections 2016
New & Unusual Terms

Find the Red Blue Dictionary explorations of these categories at the resource link below!

Resource Link: http://redbluedictionary.org/

Talking about . . . what’s next after the election?

The article, Talking about . . . what’s next after the election? was posted on the Living Room Conversations site just before the US Election in Fall 2016. Living Room Conversations are a structured format of dialogue designed to hold space for participants across the ideological spectrum to come together and explore each other’s point of view. The original article can be found in full below and on Living Room Conversations’ site here.

From the site…

The presidential election brought attention to our political system… and our differences. Now we need to restore relationships around our shared hopes and dreams and get our country focused on the work of governing. But how exactly will we do this?  This conversation allows us to start exploring ‘what’s next?’. Whether we feel elated or defeated, whatever our differences – let’s insist on finding the deeper unities we can rest upon and defend. Generosity. Goodness. Kindness. Freedom. Respect.

Click here if you would like a pdf of the following topic material to share with your cohost and friends.

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.

Want to listen to an actual Living Room Conversation?
Check out LRC Radio.

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.

One. Why are we here?
What interested you or drew you to this topic?

Two. Your core values
Answer one or more of the following:

– 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. What are your biggest concerns now?
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.

Answer one or more of the following questions:

– How do you feel and what do you think about the election, now that it’s over?

– Have any of your close relationships been harmed due to politics this year? What happened?

– How open are you and your friends to hearing different perspectives to reach a shared goal?

– Will you reach out to repair relationships that have been harmed? What will you do first?

– What would you like our elected representatives to work on first?

Four. Reflection
Answer one or more of the following questions:

– 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
Answer both of the following questions:

– 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?

Closing
Thank you! Please complete the feedback form to help us continue to improve Living Room Conversation

About Living Room Conversations
lrc_logoLiving Room Conversations is a non-profit organization founded in 2010 as a result of a transpartisan partnership focused on revitalizing civil discourse through conversation. Living Room Conversations offers an open-source format to facilitate structured conversations among people of differing views and backgrounds. Through these conversations we hope to increase understanding of various issues, build relationships, and pave the way for collaborative and inclusive problem-solving.

Follow on Twitter: @LivingRoomConvo

Resource Link: www.livingroomconversations.org/whats_next_after_the_election

Community Conversations About Mental Health

The 20-page discussion guide, Community Conversations About Mental Health (2013)was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. This guide was prepared for SAMHSA by Abt Associates and its subcontractors, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and Everyday Democracy. In the guide are instructions for hosting and facilitating community dialogues around mental health issues today and especially for young people; how to identify challenges and what ways to support youth mental health. The beginning of the toolkit includes an Informational Brief section with facts regarding mental health, then there is a Discussion Guide section and finally, a Planning Guide section with facilitator tips.

Below is an excerpt of the guide and it can be found in full for free download, in both English and Spanish at the bottom of the page. To view the original posting on SAMHSA’s site, click here.

From the guide…

us_mental-health_-logoOn January 16, 2013, President Barack Obama directed Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education to launch a national conversation on mental health to reduce the shame and secrecy associated with mental illness, encourage people to seek help if they are struggling with mental health problems, and encourage individuals whose friends or family are struggling to connect them to help.

Mental health problems affect nearly every family. Yet as a nation, we have too often struggled to have an open and honest conversation about these issues. Misperceptions, fears of social consequences, discomfort associated with talking about these issues with others, and discrimination all tend to keep people silent. Meanwhile, if they get help, most people with mental illnesses can and do recover and lead happy, productive, and full lives.

This national conversation will give Americans a chance to learn more about mental health issues. People across the nation are planning community conversations to assess how mental health problems affect their communities and to discuss topics related to the mental health of young people. In so doing, they may also decide how they might take steps to improve mental health in their families, schools, and communities. This could include a range of possible steps to establish or improve prevention of mental illnesses, promotion of mental health, public education and awareness, early identification, treatment, crisis response, and recovery supports available in their communities.

Goals and Objectives of the Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health
The Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health is designed to help individuals and organizations who want to organize community conversations achieve three potential objectives:

– Get others talking about mental health to break down misperceptions and promote recovery and healthy communities;
– Find innovative community-based solutions to mental health needs, with a focus on helping young people; and
– Develop clear steps for communities to address their mental health needs in a way that complements existing local activities.

The Toolkit includes:
1. An Information Brief section that provides data and other facts regarding mental health and mental illness and how communities can improve prevention of mental illnesses, promotion of mental health, public education and awareness, early identification, treatment, crisis response, and recovery supports available in their communities.
2. A Discussion Guide section that is intended for use in holding community conversation meetings of 8-12 people each. (In a community forum with more participants, the audience would divide into groups of this size for much of their time together.) It provides discussion questions, sample views, ideas, and an overall structure for dialogue and engagement on mental health issues.
3. A Planning Guide section that describes a variety of ways in which people can facilitate their community conversations and take next steps at the local level to raise awareness about mental health and promote access to mental health services.

Mental health issues in our communities—particularly for our youth—are complex and challenging; but, by coming together and increasing our understanding and raising awareness, we can make a difference.

To download the guide in full click the link below.

About SAMHSA
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Follow on Twitter: @samhsagov

Resource Link [in English]: community_conversations_about_mental_health

Resource Link [in Spanish]: dialogos_comunitarios_acerca_de_la_salud_mental

 

Talking to Your Kids This Election

The article, Talking to Your Kids This Election, was written by John Sarrouf and published August 1, 2016 on Public Conversations Project‘s site. In the article, Sarrouf shares a conversation he and his daughter had about her anxieties this election, and showed her the power she had to share her voice and listen to experiences outside her own. While the conversation was held with his 8-year-old, the lessons drawn from it can be shared with young and old alike. Especially within the dialogue and deliberation field, it is our ability to empower people to actively participate by using their voices and hold space to hear each other.

Below is the full article and it can also be found on the Public Conversations Project blog here.

From Public Conversations Project…

The idea that she and I could get on a bus and stand in the street – and that it would make a difference – tapped into something deep inside of her. It gave her some agency in a world that I can only imagine seems totally out of her control. After all, she cannot vote, she cannot write letters to the editor, she cannot donate money to campaigns or to meetings, she cannot even decide what time she goes to bed. She has very little control over her own world. That she might be able, with her own two feet and her small but mighty voice, to walk to the center of the world’s power and say “no” or ask for a “right” captured her imagination. And that is exactly where I want her imagination – thinking about her own power in the world, how to ask for what she cares about, how to use her voice alongside others.

This is the story we as champions of dialogue and courageous conversation can tell our children and our fellow community members. There is a place for you to be heard. Rather than talking about moving to Canada, let’s talk about how the country needs your participation. The country needs your involvement. You can make a difference if you use your voice. Our work is to help it be heard in the halls of power, in PTA meetings, in living rooms, in the challenging but utterly necessary conversations we have with each other about who we want to be together.

Especially in this moment of division in our country, we do not need to wait for our government to solve the problems between us – we can and must do that ourselves. And we must not allow the divisive rhetoric of our leaders keep us from reaching out to each other. We must make spaces for each other to hear and be heard – by one another and by our elected officials.

Our work as facilitators is to support those conversations, to make a space for those voices. We can turn our libraries, church basements, coffee shops, museums, living rooms into spaces of reconciliation and renewal. Tell your children that they have a voice and we will make space for their voice to be heard. Tell your children that they are the answer to our world’s problems and to do that, they must be willing to speak up and also to listen. The world can be a scary place to a child and the answer to some of those fear lies in their ability to make a difference. It is up to us to build a circle for them where they can find their own power, and encounter one another in new and healing ways.

About Public Conversations ProjectPCP_logo
Public Conversations Project fosters constructive conversation where there is conflict driven by differences in identity, beliefs, and values. We work locally, nationally, and globally to provide dialogue facilitation, training, consultation, and coaching. We help groups reduce stereotyping and polarization while deepening trust and collaboration and strengthening communities.

Follow on Twitter: @pconversations

Resource Link: www.publicconversations.org/blog/talking-your-kids-election