humankind and National Week of Conversation: Get the word out #NWOC #ListenFirst

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By: Jarrod Russell

Did you know that National Week of Conversation #NWOC was a thing? We didn’t either. This year it is from April 20-28. Since humankind is a network of people and initiatives committed to strengthening our shared humanity through conversations that connect, we had to get onboard.

“We believe that we can and must develop our ability to connect with people who hold views different from our own. And we are learning that sharing our personal experiences (rather than opinions) can increase understanding and build the mutual respect that is fundamental to our democracy,” said Karen Mercaldo from humankind San Diego.

humankind is excited to be part of this landmark event and wholeheartedly supports NWOC’s efforts. We have all kinds of gatherings to announce, but first let’s learn a little bit more about why America needs a national week dedicated to conversation in the first place.

According to the NWOC website, “the last few years have been hard on conversations. 75% of Americans now believe our inability to engage civilly with one another has reached a crisis level. We have not been this divided since the 1850s. And the way we use technology tends to separate us even more.”

In June 2017, an NBC article titled, Incivility in the U.S is so Intense, Americans Feel Safest at Work, featured startling findings from a survey performed by KRC Research. In addition to the statistic mentioned above, “73% of Americans feel that the U.S. is ‘losing stature as a civil nation.’ These last two statistics are record highs for the annual report, now in its seventh year.”

The article continues, “Americans say they’re personally experiencing incivility just about everywhere, including on the road (56%), while shopping (47%), in the neighborhood (25%) and online (25%). And while 34% of the 1,126 adults polled say they have in the past experienced incivility at work, the overwhelming majority (86%) said that their place of employment is currently a civil one.”

Much like humankind, National Week of Conversation aims to bring Americans together, especially if they might disagree, to work on listening to each other. To move through the discomfort, respectfully, even if we don’t agree.

At times, we may even feel the power of connection to another person, just through listening to what they are really saying about themselves. We don't have to agree, but a great place to start is to understand where the other person is coming from. That’s the spirit behind #NWOC.

Organizations and individuals can sign up to partner and host affiliated NWOC events. Individuals can participate, in person or online. Whether you are reading this in San Diego, CA or Springfield, MA, we urge you to help rebuild healthy dialogue in America.

For example, Inspire U.S. has signed up as an official NWOC co-sponsors. The organization’s co-founder, Eileen Haag, is excited to co-host a Living Room Conversation in Escondido with humankind’s Gloria Sandvik on May 31st in honor of NWOC. The topic of the conversation will be "What kind of America do you want?".

Living Room Conversations is a great national organization that encourages two hosts with different opinions on a specific topic each invite a couple folks to join them for structured conversation on the topic. There are many topics to choose from, each with excellent backgrounds and conversational structures. To learn more about how humankind and Living Room Conversations collaborate read this humankind blog post.

And there’s another humankind Living Room Conversation on the horizon as well. humankind is excited to announce that Samara Hakim, a facilitator and strategist from The Culture Factor, will be co-hosting a multi-topic Living Room Conversation with Bogdan Matuszynski from humankind in June (event details coming soon via humankind’s website, so stay tuned). It will be similar to an event that humankind hosted at the San Diego Museum of Man on March 31st, 2018 (recap here).

There are also several online events coming up that you could join, thanks again to Living Room Conversations. Links to the online conversations are below.

April 22, Sunday, 2pm - 3:30pm (Pacific), Free Speech, Fighting Words, and Violence. Is too much tolerance dangerous, or is giving an authority the power to restrict freedom of speech and assembly even more dangerous? You can check out the conversation guide here.

April 23, Monday, 4pm - 5:30pm (Pacific), Faith in PoliticsHear how others incorporate their faith into a lived experience and where we each believe the boundaries of faith exist. You can check out the conversation guide here.

April 24, Tuesday, noon - 1:30pm (Pacific), Guns & ResponsibilityThis conversation is not about continuing the current gun debate - but rather about considering how our personal experiences with guns shaped our perspectives. Conversation guide here.

April 26, Thursday, 5pm - 6:30pm (Pacific), Faith in PoliticsHear how others incorporate their faith into a lived experience and where we each believe the boundaries of faith exist. You can check out the conversation guide here.

April 28, Saturday,10am - 11:30am (Pacific), Let’s Talk About Power in RelationshipsThis conversation was designed in response to the #MeToo movement. Participants will talk about power in relationships with an approach that encourages compassion and curiosity. Conversation guide here.

Here’s what you’ll need for the online conversations: (i) 90 min (ii) a stable internet connection and a webcam (iii) a quiet place to join the conversation and (iv) the topic conversation guide (included below). Make sure you use the above links to RSVP to join the conversations.

We’ll conclude today’s blog post with gratitude. We would like to send a big thank you to Bogdan "Bogey" Matuszynski for getting NWOC on humankind’s radar. Thanks to Bogdan, there is a whole suite of programs coming up here in San Diego.

Thanks for supporting #NWOC. May we all try to #ListenFirst a little more often.