Alcohol is an important part of many cultures. Some of us enjoy drinking alcohol. Others don’t. Some of us are sober-curious. We may feel one way about drinking and another way about how alcohol is marketed. Marketing alcohol as a means of social belonging, to de-stress, and have fun normalizes drinking. In contrast, our media rarely portray alcohol’s potentially adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.
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Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Alcohol (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk.
- How has alcohol affected your life? Share something from your life experience that informs your response to or position on alcohol.
- What family, cultural, religious, and social norms related to alcohol did you grow up with?
- What guides your decision to use or abstain from alcohol?
- In what ways have you seen the influence of the alcohol industry reflected in our culture around drinking?
- It’s understandable that people may turn to substances to seek relief and comfort from painful lives. In your experience, when has that kind of usage been healthy and when has it been a problem?
- Do you have opportunities for social occasions that are alcohol free in your community? If so, what is that like for you? If not, what could alcohol free occasions look and feel like for you?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
- How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?