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National Week of Conversation 2019 Combats Social Polarization

National Week of Conversation 2019, Beginning Tomorrow, Encourages Americans of All Stripes to Enjoy Real Conversations Across Differences in Which All #ListenFirst to Understand

200+ Organizations in the #ListenFirst Coalition Have Joined Forces to Address the Cultural Crisis of Division and Dehumanization in America. In-person and virtual conversations will bridge divides coast to coast during National Week of Conversation 2019, April 5-13. 

National Week of Conversation is a bold annual occasion when people with diverse perspectives #ListenFirst to understand. Through in-person and virtual conversations coast to coast exploring any topic of interest, people of all stripes intentionally convene with the goal of mending our frayed social fabric and revitalizing America together. The first NWOC was in April 2018.

Individuals and organizations are invited to host or join conversations during NWOC 2019 and use the #ListenFirst hashtag to invite others and spread the message. A current map of planned in-person conversations can be found at NationalConversationProject.org.

"America is facing a cultural crisis as we no longer just disagree but dislike, distrust, and even despise those who see the world differently," says Pearce Godwin, Founder of Listen First Project and Executive Director of the overarching National Conversation Project. "We have infected ourselves with a virus of outrage and offense that's reached a pandemic level and is attacking us from within. This social polarization not only threatens our democracy but is destroying close personal relationships. A nation founded on universal ideals of freedom and opportunity has become one of sectarian strife."

"But together we can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division. We can transform the toxicity of tribalism into positive connections through conversation. We can disagree without disconnecting," Godwin continues. "We know from surveys that 100 million Americans want to see a national campaign to address this crisis. National Conversation Project is that campaign. Thousands of people have already committed to listen first to understand. Each one of them is tipping the scales toward a stronger and more equitable future for our nation and better relationships in our daily lives. Understanding that there is a lot of anxiety and distrust preventing conversations across differences, we look forward to engaging as many Americans as possible in this #ListenFirst movement during National Week of Conversation."

A recent study by More in Common called Hidden Tribes confirms the appetite and opportunity for this mission. A substantial majority of Americans are exhausted by our polarized national conversation. This Exhausted Majority believes people "need to be willing to listen to others," that "we need to heal as a nation," and that "differences between Americans are not so big that we cannot come together." All of the tribes identified by More in Common ranked "America’s political divisions" as a high priority issue, the only one on which all tribes agreed. Yet "most Americans feel a strong sense of pride and gratitude that they are American." As More in Common suggests, our national identity -- idealistic, hopeful, and inclusive, centered on freedom and opportunity -- can be the force that unifies us to overcome this polarization.

As Americans engage in conversations across a myriad of topics -- those that matter most to them and their communities -- we also encourage everyone to consider a central question: What could a more perfect union look like?  

In addition to that primary question for the week, we'll spark conversations with the daily questions below.

  • Friday, April 5: Who would you love to have a conversation with?
  • Saturday, April 6: When have you been most proud to be an American?
  • Sunday, April 7: Where do you go to escape polarization?
  • Monday, April 8: What would make conversations more fun?
  • Tuesday, April 9: How do you disagree without disconnecting?
  • Wednesday, April 10: When did you last shift your perspective and why?
  • Thursday, April 11: What voices or perspectives are missing in your life?
  • Friday, April 12: Who is someone from the ‘other side’ you admire?
  • Saturday, April 13: When have you felt truly heard? What was that like?

What is National Conversation Project?

There is growing, even violent, division in communities across America. We’re withdrawing from conversations—eroding relationships and understanding—fraying our social fabric. 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level. Experts say the solution is to cultivate more positive social connections. Thankfully, 75% of Americans are willing to practice conversations across divides, and 36%—more than 100 million people—want to see a national campaign to that end. National Conversation Project—powered by 200+ organizations—is that campaign.

National Conversation Project seeks to mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. We promote National Weeks of Conversation, #ListenFirst Fridays, and any conversation welcoming people of all stripes to revitalize America together. NCP aggregates, aligns, and amplifies the efforts of more than 200 partners to mainstream conversations in which we #ListenFirst to understand. www.nationalconversationproject.org #ListenFirst

National Conversation Project is supported by the generous donations of Sustaining Members including Listen First Project, Common Ground Committee, ProCon.org, Living Room Conversations, AllSides, Big Tent Nation, Bridge Alliance Education Fund, Civicus, Essential Partners, Hyland Software, Issue One, Mediators Foundation, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, National Institute for Civil Discourse, National Issues Forums, Outreach Experts, Sacred Discourse, Someone To Tell It Too, Take Back Our Republic, and Urban Confessional.