What is Essential
Essential workers, essential services, essential travel. The global pandemic has affected all areas of our lives and has invited a shift in what we believe to be essential. What is essential to our lives, to our community and for our planet? What adjustments are we making in the short term and for the long run for our personal safety or for the welfare of others? Perhaps this is a time to consider what is most important to us, to our community and for future generations.
Let's Get Started!
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?
What is Essential? (~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 have your behaviors shifted with family or friends this year? How does this inform your thinking about what is essential to you about your connections to people in your life?
- What has been the impact on the work you do? What has change or absence of change revealed to you about what is essential in the world of work?
- Travel near and far is part of many people’s lives. What is essential travel for you?
- Shifts in behavior due to the pandemic have caused us to rethink many group activities. Faith communities, schools, professional and recreational sports, and entertainment are all adapting. What are you learning about what is essential to hold on to?
- How have the changes we’ve made as individuals and society impacted your thinking about the future you would like to see and the future you believe we could achieve? What is essential?
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?