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Conversation on Public Affairs

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American democracy is endangered today by ideological polarization, negative campaigning, shameless but unchallenged mendacity, the debasement of political discourse, & the resulting alienation of millions of Americans from participation in politics & public affairs. This is especially evident in electoral abstentionism. Our presidents & most other elected public officials in recent years have been voted in by small minorities (sometimes less than 25%) of the eligible voters.

We need to learn talk with one another, & in so doing to find common ground & a common sense of purpose. That is how we can revitalize the language, & the idealism, that once characterized American politics.

As Eleanor Roosevelt put it: "Either we are going to die together, or we are going to learn to live together. And if we are going to live together, we have to talk."

On the Web: Articles

Café Talk: Guru of Gab Invites Us to Start a Never-Ending Conversation. Sherry Stripling, Seattle Times (4/8/02).

On the Web: Specialized Sites

Berkana Institute.

Center for Nonviolent Communication.

Citizen's Guide to Town Meetings (Citizen Information Service of the State of Massachusetts).

Conversation Cafés.

Conversation Cafés (Canada).

Film Connection. National public library for film conversation groups.

Green Festivals.

Let's Talk America.


National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.

National Democracy for America Meetup Day.

New Road Map Foundation.

Hold a Town Meeting (Tips for Familiarizing Children with the Practice).

Let's Talk America.

Public Conversations Project.

September Project.

Sunday Noon Post Office.

Truth Tree. Includes useful suggestions on debating, & how to avoid fallacious arguments.

Utne Institute.

Wisdom Circles.

The World Café.

In the Library: Articles

Baker, Linda. "Everybody's talking in Seattle this week," Christian Science Monitor (3/12/03).

In the Library: Non-Fiction Books

Ellinor, L. & G. Girard. Dialogue: Rediscovering the Transforming Power of Conversation (NY: John Wiley, 1998).

Ellison, Sharon. Taking the War Out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication (Berkeley CA: Bay Tree, 200?).

Lakoff, George. Moral Politics: How Liberals & Conservatives Think [1996] (Chicago: U. of Chicago, 2002).

__________. Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values & Frame the Debate (White River Junction VT: Chelsea Green, 2004).

N'Ha Sandra, J. & Editors of the Utne Reader. The Joy of Conversation: The Complete Guide to Salons (Minneapolis: Utne, 1997).

Oldenburg, R. The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Shops, Gerneral Stores, Bars, Hangouts & How They Get You Through the Day (NY: Paragon, 1989).

Spring, Cindy; Charles Garfield & Others. Wisdom Circles: A Guide to Self-Discovery & Community Building in Small Groups (NY: Hyperion, 1998).

Wheatley, Meg. Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2002).

Zimmerman, H. Speaking, Listening, Understanding (Hudson NY: Lindisfarne, 1997).

In the Library: Fiction

In the Library: For Young Readers

In the Library: Poetry

In the Library: Drama

In the Library: Photography

CD & Audio

Film & Video

Monterey Bay Educators Against War
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