Last Saturday, twenty-two people gathered on a Zoom call to discuss “Race in the Time of Corona.” The discussion was the first of a three-part series in the Mediation Center’s new facilitated dialogue program, Community Conversations. Community Conversations seeks to gather community members to relate and connect, building healthier, more resilient communities. It is a safe space to listen and be heard.
Community Conversations are facilitated dialogues, which means that a facilitator guides participants through an open sharing process, giving them the opportunity to draw upon and share their own experiences while hearing and learning from others’. It is an opportunity to engage deeply with those we may never interact with normally.
Topics are chosen by facilitators or suggested by community members. Our past conversations have included “Hate Speech, Free Speech, and Campus Life,” “Unmasking Shame,” and “Anxious Around ReOpening…for You and Your Family.”
Inspired by Living Room Conversations, our Community Conversations are governed by LRC ground rules to ensure that we have deep and meaningful conversations:
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
With these ground rules, participants can share and engage with each other – even with those who have vastly differing views! During Saturday’s Community Conversation, participants shared their relationship to race and how it may have changed after George Floyd’s death. Diverse in race, age, background, and location (one participant even joined from outside the United States!), we spoke for two hours, sharing experiences, asking questions, and making connections. It was a powerful evening.
Please check out our upcoming Community Conversations and join us for an evening of meaningful connection and honest discussion.