Generally, when I consider online conversations, I think of stark polarization and echo chambers — people harshly judging others across differences or just connecting with those who are similar to them and re-affirming what they have to say. I was surprised by my experience of participating in an online conversation through “Living Room Conversations,” as it was neither of those things.
Posted by Aizaiah Yong on January 27, 2020
I first met Victor Akioyame when we worked together in the student affairs office at a small liberal arts university in California. We became close friends due to our shared interests and passion for diversity, inclusion, and conversations on spirituality. Victor is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention and works as a student life professional at Vanguard University (VU) in Costa Mesa, California, where he ministers to students, staff, and faculty.
Posted by Guest Contributor on January 20, 2020
This post has been contributed by Susan Strouse, a retired Lutheran minister who is author of The INTRAfaith Conversation and an organizer of an initiative called Hearts Across the Divide: Reclaiming Civil Discourse. She hopes to submit a second post about this initiative in Spring 2020, after the final stage of their program.
Is it possible to have a civil conversation with your political polar opposite? From personal experience I know that it is. I feel so strongly about this that I, along with another organizer, began an initiative called Hearts Across the Divide: Reclaiming Civil Discourse. Our goal is to bring together two groups from the San Francisco Bay Area — one on the political left and one on the right — for training, facilitated dialogue, relationship-building, and hopefully restoration of civil discourse, at least in our little part of the world.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on January 13, 2020
When I first moved to Berkeley, California, almost three years ago, someone told me about the NextDoor app. I signed up right away and soon discovered that it is a great way to connect with your neighbors. People post about free lemons and plant cuttings. They request help with odd jobs like weeding. They share details about upcoming events like community open mic nights and movies in the park. People generously responded when I asked to borrow some snowshoes (for a trip). And there are, sadly, many posts about missing (but also some found!) pets.
Posted by Margaret Wakeley on January 6, 2020
Societies depend on dialogue to function well. These days social media allows us to talk more than ever, but often that means declaring our opinions: talking "at" instead of "to" others. This approach leads to further alienation.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on December 30, 2019
On December 12, 2019 the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) hosted a “Democracy Fair and Comedy Night” at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. The event began with a fair that featured a variety of community organizations including the ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the San Francisco Department of Elections, the Sierra Club, and the Practicing Democracy Project (represented by me!).
Posted by Aizaiah Yong on December 23, 2019
Practicing democracy in a diverse community does not need to be stressful or tense. At the small apartment complex in Southern California where I live, 19 residents engaged in enjoyable practices rooted in kindness and hospitality. Together we reflected on what it means to live in community with shared resources and to imagine taking committed actions for the common good of all.
Posted by Sheryl Johnson on December 16, 2019
On November 19, 2019, students, staff, and faculty from the Graduate Theological Union and wider Berkeley, California, community came together for a workshop on democracy. Through rituals and conversation, we considered this question: "Can spiritual practice strengthen democracy?"
Posted by Ada Renee Williams on December 9, 2019
February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019
Toni Morrison died on Monday, August 5, 2019. Our cohort gathered on Wednesday, August 7, for a three-day intensive. With such a seismic loss, we shifted our planned agenda to honor Morrison and allow her work to guide our intensive.
First, each participant selected a favorite passage from a novel of the Morrison Canon to share with the group. Next, we used the same or another passage to expound on one of the topics of our gathering: de-centering whiteness, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, examples or challenges of cultural productions of evil.
Posted by Ada Renee Williams on December 2, 2019
Forty-six miles west of New Orleans, near Wallace, Louisiana, in St. John the Baptist Parish situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, you will find The Whitney Plantation. It was established in 1752, first to harvest indigo, later rice and sugar. The Whitney was operational for over 100 years, and during this time held the lives of 350 persons of African Descent/African Americans in bondage on its grounds. The Whitney distinguishes itself as the "only plantation museum in the region with an exclusive focus on slavery."
About This Blog
Democracy is more than a system of government; it is a way of life. We can assess the vitality of a democracy by how well it is serving the people's needs and hopes. But a democracy's health is best reflected in examples of how people practice it through their commitments to shared values and virtues. In this blog, we will present stories of democracy-in-practice. More.