Today officially kicks off the National Week of Conversation, an unprecedented week of connecting conversations that will run until next Saturday, April 28th!
The last few years have been hard on conversations. 75% of Americans now believe our inability to engage civilly with one another has reached a crisis level. We have not been this divided since the 1850s. And the way we use technology tends to separate us even more.
The National Week of Conversation is about bringing Americans together to talk it out. Organizations can sign up to partner and host affiliated events (you can even add them to our calendar!). Individuals can sign up to participate both in person and online (individuals are welcome to host their own events too).
We strongly encourage you to check out the National Week of Conversation’s site here and see how this effort is happening all across the US. For those interested in starting your own event there are many supporting conversation guides, background information on a variety of subjects, and other resources. To facilitate these conversations even more, NWOC offers resources specifically designed for schools, libraries, and faith communities – which we have lifted up in the post below and you can find on NWOC’s site here.
Schools for NWOC: Resource Guide
Why? With the advent of social media algorithms and increasingly biased news pushing us into our own individualized filter bubbles, the country is reaching levels of division that in some ways is the worst we’ve seen since the 1850s. This is why it’s more important than ever to teach the next generation how to reach beyond their own bubbles and have civil conversations with people who disagree with them or have different backgrounds and perspectives.
Are you an educator interested in NWOC but can’t participate this year? Please still sign up your school to receive resources and updates about the next National Week of Conversation.
Free Services and Resources that can help
- AllSides for Schools provides tools, lesson plans and resources from across the web for teachers and students to understand and discuss news and issues from different perspectives and across differences with civility and respect. Programs available for middle school, high school and college.
- Bill of Rights Institute provides Bridge the Divide, a program that allows students to weigh in on hot-button political questions in a moderated online forum. Students can add their own opinions as well as up-vote the opinions of other students and see how peers view the important issues. Ideal for high school students.
- Empatico is a tool for teachers to connect their lower-school students to classrooms around the world using seamless video conferencing technology. Activities are standards-based and designed to promote meaningful interactions and positive perceptions. Students are able to explore their similarities and differences with curiosity and kindness and develop practical communication and leadership skills. Designed for 7-11 year old students.
- Mismatch connects teachers across the country so they can introduce their students to other students from different regions of the country with contrasting socioeconomic backgrounds and political perspectives. Students then engage in structured, respectful video conversations across differences, gaining mutual understanding and appreciation for one another. Ideal for high schools and colleges. Sign up your class for Mismatch now!
Click here to find Conversation Guides and Lesson Plans for Schools by Topic on:
- Set the Tone – Getting your classroom started
- Media Bias, Polarization, and Fake News
- Free speech
- Guns and Responsibility
- Race & Equity
- Sexual Assault & Power Relationships
- Other Topics
Libraries for NWOC: Resource Guide
Why should my library participate? The National Week of Conversation (NWOC) is an opportunity to help your library’s patrons connect with other people in their community and across the country. Libraries are a trusted gathering place in communities across the country, and can help in NWOC’s mission to revitalize our democracy. NWOC will allow your patrons to connect to other people in conversations they normally would not be able to have. Check out our PDF guide for participation.
How Can My Library Participate? There are a number of different ways your library can participate in NWOC!
Host an event, or make your library available for conversations:
- Book Clubs: Provide space for your local book clubs to discuss a book that brings up important issues. Check out this list of suggestions from the Kansas City Public Library.
- Living Room Conversations offers self-facilitated conversation guides. Simply provide meeting space and conversation guides to groups of patrons who can meet at your library for conversations.
- Facilitated Conversations: Send an email to courtney[at]ncdd[dot]org to learn about bringing a facilitator to your library.
Provide computers for your patrons to connect with others across the country:
Mismatch is a service that utilizes free video conferencing systems to connect people across the country for conversations across divides. Simply provide space in your library for people to use computers and participate. Point your patrons to Mismatch.org where they can sign up for a conversation.
These are just a few ideas. We invite you to be creative and register your own event. Perhaps you want to use your own conversation guide or invite an expert speaker to your library? Please register your event and direct any questions to jaymee[at]allsides[dot]com.
Faith Communities for NWOC: Resource Guide
Why should my faith community participate? The National Week of Conversation (NWOC) is an opportunity to help your faith community’s members connect with other people in their community and across the country. Faith traditions share the common value of peace-making. Congregations of all faiths are trusted gathering places for the larger community as well as members of their own community. They also are organized to help people gather in communities across the country. This peace focus, trust and capacity for hospitality can help in NWOC’s mission to revitalize our democracy. NWOC will encourage your members to connect to other people in conversations they normally would not be able to have.
How Can My Congregation Participate? There are a number of different ways
your congregation can participate in NWOC!
Host an event, or make your congregation available for conversations:
- Create a fellowship event: Invite members to gather for conversations that will help them grow in understanding and deepen relationships. Check out Planning a Community Living Room Conversation.
- Provide a conversation opportunity for established groups: Most congregations have groups that meet regularly for fellowship, study, governance or service. Commit one meeting time to a conversation that will enrich your time together.
- Build effective teams: Support congregational teams by offering conversations that give practice in understanding others’ perspectives, building trust and listening respectfully.
- Living Room Conversations offers self-facilitated conversation guides. Simply provide meeting space and conversation guides to folks from your larger community who can meet at your site for conversations.
- Facilitated Conversations: Send an email to our Faith Communities Partner for assistance in hosting a virtual conversation (linda[at]livingroomconversations[dot]org) or locating a facilitator (courtney[at]ncdd[dot]org) who can be present with you.
Provide computers for your members to connect with others across the country:
Mismatch is a service that utilizes free video conferencing systems to connect people across the country for conversations across divides. Simply provide space in your congregation for people to use computers and participate. Point your patrons to Mismatch.org where they can sign up for a conversation.
These are just a few ideas. We invite you to be creative and register your own event. Perhaps you want to use your own conversation guide or invite an expert speaker to your faith community? Please register your event and direct any questions to linda[at]livingroomconversations[dot]org.