We do two-hour conversations in schools, social service agencies, churches, and other setting. These involve active listening, honest responses, telling stories (personal and collective), sharing our vision for deeper partnerships, and inviting more connection.
Here’s an example
We had a powerful community conversation with African American students enrolled in a Patrick Henry High School class offered through the Minneapolis School District’s Office of Black Male Achievement. After introductions, we invited these young men to speak at length – with us just listening – on this question: “What’s on your heart and mind about the relationship between the Police and your community?”
Then members of our group, including Police officers, acknowledged what they heard and responded with their perspectives without teaching, explaining, or defensiveness. Just personal and real. The students then began to ask curious questions of the white officers. We then moved into small groups to talk about what a safe community would be like. The young men craved to be heard, and they were prepared to talk about how we move forward to create safe communities. As more than one young man said, “It started here today with this conversation where we were listened to.”