Communities of Practice create ongoing opportunities for people to connect through conversation and build understanding. They happen in different contexts– from small businesses to city-wide initiatives. Regardless of the scale, adaptation, or funding, gathering for regular Living Room Conversations can have a big impact.
Living Room Conversations are highly adaptable and can be used in a wide variety of settings. Read more below about some of the communities actively using Living Room Conversations!
Charleston County Public Library
Charleston County, SC
Librarian Emilie Hancock embedded Living Room Conversations into her programming after attending a webinar that presented various community dialogue formats. After looking at several options she chose LRC because it seemed to have the greatest potential and was a sustainable, “canned program”. Monthly conversations ranged from Guns to Healthcare and Race. Community members noticed the impact: “The pendulum has been swinging in the hyper-partisan direction and it does a disservice to everyone. Living Room Conversations seemed to be doing its part to swing the pendulum in the other direction and highly value listening.” Read more about libraries.
A Novel Experience bookstore
This small business in a small town with a long-standing commitment to community started holding Living Room Conversations in 2018. The trust and credibility of the owners allowed for deep conversations around challenging topics. In one memorable conversation around guns the store owner asked how many people were carrying and 3 of the 11 participants took out their guns and placed them on the coffee table. There was a chuckle, followed by a meaningful conversation. In a town of 1,200 residents these conversations are making a difference: “We have learned to listen better, listen without anticipating the next thing. The word about Living Room Conversations is getting out: we are giving people a forum to learn about other people.
Mecklenburg Metropolitan Interfaith Network
Each quarter, three different cohorts of 30 people meet for the group’s Open Tables project using the LRC conversation guides. Faith-based organizations represent one of the places where we socialize norms and this group has been working to build trust and understanding across religious, political, and racial differences. In addition to the conversations, they are planning a joint service project for the area and often meet one on one to deepen relationships within the group. Long-time LRC Faith Partner Linda Taylor highlights the value of conversations within congregations: “As a priest, spiritual director, and conflict coach, Living Room Conversations help me support faith communities in our sacred work of increasing understanding and building peace, one conversation at a time.” Read more about faith communities.
Estes Valley, CO
Since August 2020, community leaders from the Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership, in partnership with the local library, have organized regular Living Room Conversations with the hope “to build local capacity to engage in difficult issues more collaboratively and productively,” according to organizer Denise Lord. Over the years they have engaged hundreds of residents and created space for community members to explore important topics like police & community relations, guns and responsibility, mental health, and the future of work. Positive response led the Restorative Justice State Council to provide funding making the conversations more accessible with interpretation costs, stipends for participation, childcare and food.