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Boston Event to Help Build Bridges Through Conversation

Organizers say healthy conversation, where listening and learning take precedence over arguing, is possible. (NCDD.org)
Organizers say healthy conversation, where listening and learning take precedence over arguing, is possible. (NCDD.org)
April 20, 2018

BOSTON – America may be more divided than it has been since the 1850s, but Boston is taking a leading role in a national movement to heal the wounds.

The level of anger in public discourse has reached a fever pitch in recent years, and disagreement often becomes open hostility. The National Week of Conversation, with events across the country, is inviting people to participate in discussions that prioritize respect and understanding.

Sandy Heierbacher, founding director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, says Bostonians will have the opportunity to engage in public discussions of a variety of issues at the Boston Public Library this coming Tuesday.

"We're running a number of dialogues focusing on issues like immigration, power in relationships and race relations and polarization, so all of these hot-button issues that we need to address in this country," Heierbacher says.

Information about the conversations and registration to participate are online at nationalweekofconversation.org or on the Boston Public Library website.

There will be guides to facilitate both face-to-face conversation and online dialogues with people in distant communities. According to Heierbacher, more than 100 partner organizations are helping stage conversations nationwide.

"We are basically creating spaces all across the U.S. where everyone who shows up can tell their story and share their perspective on issues that we usually debate about or avoid entirely," says Heierbacher.

The series began on Thursday with a conversation in Washington, D.C., and will culminate with two simultaneous events in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on April 29.

Heierbacher says the purpose is to show that healthy conversation, where listening and learning take precedence over arguing, is possible.

"Conversations with ground rules and facilitators, conversations that have people building understanding amongst each other rather than figuring out how they can win an argument really can happen," she says.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - MA