America in Crisis
The United States is facing a cultural crisis. Increasingly in America today, we don’t just disagree; we distrust, dislike, even despise those who see the world differently. Animosity for positions is becoming contempt for the people who hold them. Difference and disagreement are deeply personal as we rage against and recoil from those we see as enemies across widening divides—political, racial, religious, economic and more. Most of us see fewer things that bind Americans together today and have few or no friends from the other side. The rate of loneliness has more than doubled to nearly 50%, creating a public health epidemic. We’re withdrawing from conversations—thereby eroding relationships and understanding—which threatens the foundational fabric of America. 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level, and 56% believe it will only get worse. Our condition is rapidly deteriorating into what’s now being described as a soft civil war.
Beacons of Hope
But there is hope even in today's hyper-polarized and tribal society. Experts say the solution is to cultivate more positive social connections. We can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division by starting new conversations that bridge divides—from 'us vs. them' toward 'me and you.' Each person who listens first to understand tips the scales toward a stronger and more equitable future for our nation and better relationships in our daily lives.
In April 2018, thousands of Americans took part in the first National Week of Conversation (NWOC). More than 130 schools, libraries, faith communities, activist groups and nonprofits hosted conversations coast to coast in 32 states. These conversations were grounded in a commitment to 'listen first to understand.' The official #ListenFirst hashtag reached millions during NWOC and continues to be promoted by celebrities and journalists to millions more. NWOC events gained media attention across the nation including in the New York Times.
Majorities of NWOC participants walked away feeling more tolerant, understanding, appreciative and curious toward people with different perspectives. Two-thirds rated the value of their conversation as a 9 or 10 out of 10. More than three-quarters now feel better equipped and more likely to listen first to understand, as well as more likely to participate in conversations across divides. A survey of all Americans found 75%—more than 200 million people—willing to practice conversations across divides, and 36%—more than 100 million people—want to see a national campaign to turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division.
National Conversation Project
Building on the tremendous success of the first National Week of Conversation and the momentum it generated, we've launched an ongoing National Conversation Project to mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. National Conversation Project—an overarching collaborative platform powered by 175+ organizations—is designed to reach farther and impact greater than any one organization by aggregating, aligning, and amplifying the many conversation efforts already underway while welcoming more Americans into conversations. National Conversation Project promotes National Weeks of Conversation, #ListenFirst Fridays, and any conversation inviting people to revitalize America together.
National Conversation Project (NCP) is built in the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and shared ownership. NCP is driven by a broad diversity of Americans in their communities. It’s designed as an open platform for all participants to adapt and shape to be their own. Participants and hosting partners are welcome to use the conversation model and topic of their choice, or simply have a casual conversation, while NCP offers tools and popular topics.
National Conversation Project seeks to mainstream conversations across divides in which we #ListenFirst to understand. NCP invites people of all stripes to connect with one another, develop relationships, and revitalize America together. Imagine the local and national impact of people in every region of every state participating in these conversations both in-person and virtually—to span geographic divides. NCP executes a robust traditional and new media campaign to continually increase the number and diversity of voices in the conversations. Tangible impact will be measured and tracked by active engagement metrics, social listening, sentiment analysis, pre and post conversation surveys, and national surveys to quantify the mending of our frayed social fabric. NCP is also positioned to respond to current events and crises with immediate, large-scale conversation opportunities.
Now is the time to meet the urgent need of a nation in crisis. More than 200 million Americans are willing to practice conversations across divides, and more than 100 million want to see a national campaign to turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division. National Conversation Project is that campaign. Please consider investing in this unprecedented collaborative mission to mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides with conversation. Nonprofits, businesses, and individuals are invited to be Sustaining Members and/or Headline Sponsors of National Conversation Project.
National Conversation Project is wholly funded by donations, which are used to grow, coordinate, and promote conversation opportunities coast to coast. Funds enable a lean staff to recruit new hosting partners, generate awareness, coordinate events, capture transformation stories, and invite millions of Americans to join the conversations. Donations will also produce high profile convening events and be shared with hosting partners to enhance their conversation programs. NCP will invest in a robust traditional and new media campaign to continually increase the number and diversity of voices in the conversations. With your support, this campaign of conversations that bridge divides will be the largest in American history, featuring unprecedented breadth and depth of outreach. As stated above, impact will be measured and tracked by active engagement metrics, social listening, sentiment analysis, pre and post conversation surveys, and national surveys to quantify the mending of our frayed social fabric.
Learn more about sponsorship types, levels, and benefits here.
Our team would love to hear from you and discuss your involvement in National Conversation Project! We also want your stories of conversation, which we'll use to encourage more people to participate.
Executive Director: Pearce Godwin
Partnerships Director: Jaclyn Inglis
Vision Director: Debilyn Molineaux
Managing Editor, #ListenFirstFriday: Graham Bodie
Associate Partnerships Director: Sarah Kenny
- Weber Shandwick, Civility in America VII: The State of Civility
- Washington Post, Most think political divisions as bad as Vietnam era, new poll shows
- Pew Research, Partisanship and Political Animosity 2016
- Harvard Business Review, Work and the Loneliness Epidemic
- Cigna, Study Reveals Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America
- Bloomberg, What Democratic Rage Would Look Like
- Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
- Listen First Project, Post-NWOC Survey