Let's Talk America
We need to talk. We believe the time is ripe for a national dialogue on the state of our democracy. One that is inclusive of all political viewpoints. Such a conversation is the idea behind Let's Talk America.
Let?s Talk America is a nationwide dialogue initiative that is bringing Americans from all points on the political spectrum together in cafes, bookstores, churches and living rooms for lively, open-hearted dialogue to consider questions essential to the future of our democracy. Let?s Talk America reconnects with the ?town hall? meeting spirit that?s the lifeblood of our democracy. Let?s Talk America is where everyone can talk about America?s promise, about what freedom, democracy, unity and equality mean to us -- to "we the people." Let?s Talk America is a meeting ground where we can come together to listen, speak, ask and learn -- without being forced to agree, change or bite our tongues.
What is a Let?s Talk America conversation?
Any conversation about democracy in America that is:
- Inclusive ? all people and all perspectives welcome
- Non-partisan ? bring your views - but no lobbying for your causes, candidates, movements or parties.
- Respectful ? having a host and "ground rules" will assure that everyone has a chance to be heard.
- New ? new people, new information, new ideas, new insights, new possibilities
Why do it?
All great changes begin in conversation. Many forces are fragmenting America right now. One bold patriotic act is to engage "We the people" in a conversation about how to form a "more perfect union." Democracy takes guts. It is a process, not a given. A nationwide activity, not a spectator sport. It requires keeping an open mind and honest, respectful listening and speaking. Like working out for healthy bodies, conversation works our democracy muscles and makes our nation strong. Get back in the game. Start a Let?s Talk America conversation. With one person, a group of friends or your whole town. Today. This week. Sometime this year. Everyone is welcome.
How can I start an LTA Conversation?
Anyone who has the curiosity and courage to find out what other people think about America -- especially the current state of our democracy -- can start a Let?s Talk America conversation. LTA gives you a way to invite others into a conversation about what our democracy means in our lives. Here are some useful tips to get you started:
Who do you do it with?
Anyone else. You can choose how safe or adventurous you want to be. You can pick a circle of friends, a few neighbors, the person next to you in the grocery line, a church group, a work group or come to any of the open Let?s Talk America events listed on this website. You are always welcome! And if you?d like others to join, you can post your event. LTA especially encourages you to invite others who think differently than you do ? others that you don?t usually get to talk to about the questions that matter to you.
How many people come?
You can have a Let?s Talk America conversation with one other person, with ten... or, if more, we can help you do that.
What do you talk about?
The best response to a question isn?t an answer, it?s a conversation. Try these conversation starters:
- What is the American Dream to you?
- Tell about a time when you felt "This is what democracy looks like!"
- What does "We the People" mean in your life?
- What does freedom mean to you?
How do you have a Let?s Talk America conversation?
Gather these ingredients:
- A Host who introduces the simple agreements and process, and keeps time.
- A Set of Agreements (if it?s just you and a friend, you can keep the agreements whether or not you ask them to):
- Open-mindedness: listen to and have patience with all points of view.
- Acceptance: suspend judgement as best you can.
- Curiosity: seek to understand rather than persuade.
- Discovery: question old assumptions, look for new insights.
- Sincerity: speak for yourself about what has personal heart and meaning.
- Brevity: go for honesty and depth but don't go on and on.
- Other people ? Friends, neighbors, co-workers, members of community groups, strangers. The idea is that both people who share your views -- and people who don?t -- are part of "we the people."
- A structure ? At minimum, you need:
- A set beginning and ending time.
- A chance ? at the start and at the end - for each person in the group to speak in turn. No interruptions. No feedback. Not speaking is okay, too. Pick some object -- a stone, a salt shaker, anything. Tell participants that whoever holds the object has the floor...
- And talk!
A Wealth of Resources
On the LTA website you?ll find a wealth of resources that will enable you to host conversations in ways that will honor LTA principles and take the conversation from small talk to big talk so that everyone can feel respected, safe and heard.
- a conversation caf? manual
- a sample invitation
- a brochure on utilizing the media
- posters and hand-outs
- info about telephone trainings for hosts
- and much more
To Learn More or Get Involved
If you'd like to be part of this initiative to take American politics from diatribe to dialogue, there are many ways to get involved -- from attending a discussion in your neighborhood, to organizing citywide and regional events in your area. The LTA website features downloadable discussion guides, tools that let you find events in your area or post one of your own, and an online voter registration system.
There are many ways to participate: Host, Volunteer, Endorse, Attend, Donate. Join in the National Day of Conversation. The first step is to sign up! Go to http://connect.letstalkamerica.org/join/ to join the LTA email list now.