National Conversation Project

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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. 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level, and 56% believe it will only get worse. 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. We cannot go on like this.

Beacons of Hope

But there is hope even in today's hyper-polarized and tribal society. We can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division by starting new conversations that bridge divides—move from 'us vs. them' to 'me and you.' Each person who listens first to understand tips the scales toward a stronger future for our nation, one built on relationships created by conversation.

 

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In April of this year, 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 pledge to listen first and seek understanding. The official #ListenFirst hashtag reached millions during NWOC and continues to be promoted by celebrities and journalists to millions more.

Majorities of NWOC participants walked away feeling more tolerant, understanding, appreciative and curious toward people with different perspective. 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% willing to set a good example by practicing civil conversations, and 36%—amounting to more than 100 million people—want to see a national campaign promoting such conversations.

National Conversation Project

Building on the tremendous success of National Week of Conversation and the momentum it generated, we are now working to launch an ongoing, monthly National Conversation Project. Our primary goal is to mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. National Conversation Project (NCP)—a special project of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund offered in open-source fashion—will engage increasingly more partners and participants through synchronized monthly conversation opportunities as well as semi-annual National Weeks of Conversation. National Conversation Project seeks to mainstream conversations across divides. It aims to create a tidal wave which—in addition to mending our frayed social fabric—will elevate all partnering organizations. NCP is the ideal vehicle to aggregate and amplify the work of many across a rapidly growing field. The potential impact of a broadly collaborative National Conversation Project—built on the proven success of NWOC—far exceeds anything a single organization could imagine on its own.

Now is the time to seize momentum from NWOC and meet the desperate need of a nation in crisis! To launch and grow National Conversation Project, we need financial support from individuals and organizations whom we’ll proudly recognize as NCP Charter Members, featuring logos on the website and marketing materials. If you’re willing to invest in this unprecedented collaborative opportunity, please do so using the button below or contact NCP Director Pearce Godwin at Pearce@ListenFirstProject.org. Let’s revitalize America together!

 

SUPPORT NATIONAL CONVERSATION PROJECT


References

1.  Weber Shandwick, Civility in America VII: The State of Civility

2.  Washington Post, Most think political divisions as bad as Vietnam era, new poll shows

3.  Pew Research, Partisanship and Political Animosity 2016

4.  Harvard Business Review, Work and the Loneliness Epidemic

5.  Cigna, Study Reveals Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America

6.  Weber Shandwick, Civility in America VII: The State of Civility

7.  Listen First Project, Post-NWOC Survey

8.  Weber Shandwick, Civility in America VII: The State of Civility