Communities are working right now to respond to urgent needs and explore how investments in vital conditions can strengthen our systems and support moving from recovery to renewal. Community engagement processes are critical to ensuring residents and community partners are able to share their ideas and solutions for moving forward.
Authentic dialogue is a simple and powerful place to start.
Dialogue strengthens our sense of belonging and connection by building relationships.
When we listen, share, and discover the stories of our community, we are able to create meaning together—and are better positioned to act as stewards in our organizations, communities, and regions.
No matter the topic, dialogue participants enter the conversation with intention by:
- Listening for what’s true for others
- Sharing what’s true for you
- Discovering what we have in common
Why is dialogue important for meeting this historic moment?
Disagreements on important issues, such as education, housing, or healthcare, are inevitable, but they do not have to create insurmountable divides. The practice of dialogue can move us from individuals who have fundamental differences of opinion and backgrounds to people who work together, respect each other, and are able to inform and influence the policies and systems that shape our lives.
- Dialogue is the art of thinking together. It is different from focus groups, surveys or other community input formats because it generates deeper understanding and new possibilities.
- Dialogue strengthens our relationships and sense of belonging. When we listen and discover by sharing stories, we are able to create connections and generate empathy–and build trust relationships across the lines that too often divide us.
- Dialogue helps build our civic muscle, making it easier to take action together. Through deeper understanding, better ideas and trust relationships, dialogue builds the collective power for collective action (and adaption) to meet the needs of all community members.
- Dialogue balances creative tensions. Dialogue successfully balances tensions inherent in moving from rescue to renewal: short-term needs and long-term interests; moving quickly and being playful; engaging traditional partners and underheard voices.
Moving Into Action
In partnership with a growing number of national networks and local communities, we are developing a series of dialogue tools to support communities in exploring how we can secure legacies of well-being and justice for generations to come.
We invite you to explore, share, and engage with your community through the dialogue guides and partner platforms.
Recovery to Renewal
As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, and the inequities of the systems that shape our lives, there is reason for hope. This conversation taps our immense reservoir of energy, courage, and imagination to create a better future together.
Renewing Civic Life
Civic life encompasses the infinite ways that people may connect and contribute to their community and society. We have a chance now to embrace our interdependence and to create just and productive communities. This conversation is an opportunity to reimagine our civic life.
Renewing Our Economy
Our economic life encompasses more than jobs, businesses, and financial institutions. It is an expression of what we value, who we value, and how we work together. In this conversation, we explore what quality of economic life could look like for you and your community.
Renewing Social, Emotional and Spiritual Life
Our social, emotional, and spiritual life is tied to how we understand ourselves, relate to others, and experience belonging and purpose. In this conversation, you are invited to consider your own experiences, name what has helped you to develop resilience, and dream up what could be possible in our communities moving forward.
Renewing Social, Emotional and Spiritual (Youth)
When we talk about renewing our social, emotional and spiritual life, we are really talking about what we think about ourselves, how we connect with our family and friends, and if we feel like we belong. This conversation guide helps you consider your personal experiences, how you can support others, and what kind of impact we can have on a community.
Life in the Time of Corona
In the past two years, our experience of the coronavirus has shifted from “What’s that?” to “What is this going to mean for my life?” As we move forward in this changing environment, it can be helpful to share our experiences and to consider the potential outcomes from our shared national challenge.
Our Dialogue Partners
Living Room Conversations (LRC) are a simple way to connect across divides – politics, age, gender, race, nationality, and more.
Living Room Conversations has more than 100 dialogue guides on a range of topics. The Living Room Conversations team members regularly supports dialogue host trainings–and offer a host toolkit to support community members interested in holding conversations of their own.
Learn more about Living Room Conversations as part of the National City League’s Bridging Differences to Thrive Together conversation.
Local Voices Network (LVN) is devoted to engaging and amplifying under-heard voices to inform public understanding, policy development and decision-making.
Local Voices Network partners use its conversation model to gather the complex and nuanced stories of people who have historically been underrepresented in policy making and the media. The online platform and analytics tools (powered by Cortico technology) distill key themes from recorded conversations, enabling our partners to lift up important perspectives from real people.
Explore Local Voices Network Script-o-matic to create your own dialogue guide–or listen to perspectives of dialogue participants in the medley below.
Explore the work of additional network partners who are bridging the spaces that divide us and growing our civic muscle.