July 15 Update from Let's Talk America

Let's Talk America - a collaborative project of NCDD, Utne Institute, and Conversation Cafe - is bringing people across the U.S. together to talk about what democracy means to them. Read today's LTA update below to learn about training opportunities for hosts, upcoming LTA events, and about dialogues held on Independence Day.

July 15, 2004

1. Hip-pocket question of the week
2. Host training - sign up now!
3. July 4 Update
4. Thanks to last week's hosts
5. Support LTA!

1. Hip-pocket question of the week
Yesterday was Bastille Day, July 14, the day the French celebrate their freedom from tyranny and the birth of their democracy. We in the U.S. just celebrated ours. We're both part of what's known as the "free world," a term that has meant many things throughout history -- freedom from monarchy, from communism, from fascism. This week, ask someone: In this day and age, what does it mean to live in the "free world"?

Each week we'll give you a new question to spark conversations that cross political divides. Could you ask at least one person the question above? In the grocery line. At church. At the dinner table, the gym, the water cooler. Carry this question around with you this week. See what people say. Let us know what you hear at [email protected] and we'll publish some of your thoughtful responses in next week's Connection.

2. Host Training - sign up now!
Don't you wish there was a Let's Talk America conversation at the exact time and place that's most convenient for you? Become a host! It's easy, fun, and brings you important skills and experiences that you can use at home and on the job. Join the next FREE telephone training for LTA hosts: Monday, 7/19 5:00 to 6:30 PST. Just sign up at http://www.letstalkamerica.org/phonetrain.htm

3. July 4 Update
For Independence Day, we suggested some questions about the meaning of freedom to raise with your family and friends at your July 4 picnics and barbecues. Many of you reported wonderful, deep conversations that helped bridge uncomfortable divisions with loved ones. Here's what a couple of you said:

Julie N., in Washington State, writes: "I asked my sister and brother-in-law as we watched fire works what they cherish about America . . . I remember my brother in law saying that change is important to him. If we don't like something we can work to change it."

And Mini Ann describes what freedom means to her: ". . . freedom to do what one wants (within reason, of course) -- going on a bicycle ride, driving long distances to other parts of the country, seeing my favorite film, West Side Story, on a great big, wide screen in a movie theatre, doing my work and socializing with friends and family when one wants. The freedom to just be."

4. Upcoming LTA events
Last week, LTA conversations took place in Boulder, CO, Seattle, WA, St. Louis, MO, and Cotati, Palo Alto, Rancho Cucamonga, and Sonoma County, CA. If you hosted one of these gatherings, thank you. And please let us know how it went at http://www.letstalkamerica.org/feedback. LTA is a learning laboratory, and we need to hear from you so we can together hear the voices of "We the People."

This week and next, there are more LTA gatherings scheduled in Vermont, Oregon, Texas, California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Massachusetts and Maine. Sign up to join one at http://connect.letstalkamerica.org/meetings. Don't see one near you? Host your own!

Added by Sandy on July 15, 2004