It all starts with a conversation.
The easiest way to start is by hosting our United or Divided? Living Room Conversation. The goal of this conversation is to begin to identify areas where people of different political views fundamentally agree and could work together.
The Living Room Conversation format is a simple, sociable format in which 4 - 7 people, invited by two co-hosts from different political backgrounds, meet in a living room and have a conversation using a structured, tested format. Ideally, conversations take place in person, but they can also be conducted via video conference (e.g. Zoom, Google Hangouts).
Host a Conversation
1. Find a co-host.
This should be someone who you have good feelings about, who has different political views from you, and has the capacity to honor the Living Room Conversation Ground Rules. You need not know them well. The Living Room Conversation format does an amazing job of encouraging thoughtful, honest, and respectful conversations even among acquaintances.
2. Invite two people each.
You should each invite friends who represents your “side” of the political spectrum. Ideally, it's nice to have someone under 30 in the group, and if you can get some diversity along other lines, e.g. socio-economic, gender, race, religion, orientation, life experience, all the better!
3. Host your conversation.
Prepare for your conversation begin training your brain to think from all sides of the political spectrum by checking out Chisel Bits, ReConsider Media, the Transpartisan Review, and AllSides.com
On the day of your conversation, set up enough chairs in your living room so that everyone can get comfortable. If desired, offer tea, coffee, or snacks. Then, have one of the hosts walk the group through the conversation guide. We’ve created the United or Divided? Conversation Guide for your initial conversation. During the conversation, it’s ideal if you can assign one host to take notes so that you can share your results.
4. Thank your participants and share your results.
Thank your participants via email, social, or handwritten note. If the conversation was insightful, consider hosting a follow-up conversation focused on one of the common ground issues you uncovered, read a book or article related to the topic, or stay in touch via social media. You can find issues-specific conversation guides here, or email us to suggest a new conversation guide.
To amplify common ground issues and solutions, we need to hear your results!
Send your feedback to us here.
Places to look for a co-host:
- Your high school or college alumni network
- Your neighbors
- Your family and extended family
- If you have children, your school community
- Your workplace
- Your place of worship
- Service providers, e.g. Lyft drivers, your barista, your hairdresser or mail carrier
- Political action or issue advocacy groups, e.g. Indivisible, Tea Party Patriots -- particularly those that represent a different political party or set of views
- A local business or civic leader whose views differ from your own
- Facebook or LinkedIn
- Friends of friends or family
You can use Doodle, a free scheduling app, to find dates that work for everyone in your group.
You can also host a conversation via Free Conference Call or Maestro, or a video conference via Zoom. If you want to organize more than one conversation, you can use Google Docs or Slack to brainstorm a list of invitees and their political affiliations.
Sample Invitation Script
Here's a sample script that you can use to invite people to your conversation via email, Facebook message, etc.:
I’m looking to host a small, guided conversation in my living room in [CITY OR NEIGHBORHOOD] among a balanced group of 6 people with different political views with the goal of finding political common ground and perhaps even forming an on-going Community Group that could work together to advocate for bi-partisan policy proposals via a cool new on-line platform called The Chisel. Would you be interested in co-hosting it with me? We’ll be using this conversation guide and reporting results back to the Common Ground Coalition, a movement that is bringing Americans together around a positive shared vision for the future.
Please let me know if you’d like to join me! We’d just need to set a date, and each invite two people to the conversation who represent our side of the political spectrum.
Get Help Finding a Co-host!
If you can't find a co-host in your network, please fill out the form below and we'll do our best to introduce you to someone in your city or town.