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"National Week of Conversation" Dialogues Come to Charlottesville

Community discussions are scheduled from coast to coast as part of this National Week of Conversation. (Sandy Heierbacher/NCDD)
Community discussions are scheduled from coast to coast as part of this National Week of Conversation. (Sandy Heierbacher/NCDD)
April 23, 2018

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — This week is the first-ever "National Week of Conversation," and the Millennial Action Project is hosting a series of events in Charlottesville to promote healthy dialogue and help mend the deep divisions within communities.

Layla Zayden, the Millennial Action Project's chief operating officer, said the idea behind what they're calling the "Red and Blue Dialogue" is to bring together Virginia's younger state and congressional officials with community members to identify common ground.

"What that leads to is a new way of thinking about solutions, and a new way of thinking about governing that's a lot more collaborative,” Zayden said. “And you know, by empowering millennials or empowering the next generation of leaders, we're seeing kind of an 'outside of the box' way of thinking."

It's part of a multi-day event called "Listen First," hosted by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. It aims to talk specifically about polarization in the community - such as the conflicts surrounding the Charlottesville rally last August - and to encourage civil dialogue in America as a whole.

Sarah Heierbacher, director of the NCDD, said anyone who comes to the events can share their perspective on issues that are typically either hotly debated or avoided.

"What we're trying to do with the National Week of Conversation is to show people that healthy conversation is possible,” Heierbacher said; “where listening and learning can take precedence over arguing and grandstanding.”

Nationwide, these conversations will take place at public events, but also as private groups meeting at restaurants or in homes. The National Week of Conversation started April 20 and lasts through the 28.

To find a conversation, visit

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA