Taken from a December 2017 TEDWomen LRC Press Release:
In a new TED Talk released by TEDLIVE this week MoveOn.org and LivingRoomConversations.org cofounder Joan Blades along with AllSides.com founder John Gable inspire people to develop unique friendships with others they disagree with. The TED Talk originally took place on November 2nd, 2017 at the TEDWomen conference in New Orleans.
In the TED Talk, Joan Blades describes living in Berkeley, CA as a progressive who became friends with conservatives she met in 2005 as part of an effort that brought grassroots leaders on the right and left together. Joan describes turning heads on Capitol Hill when she lobbied with her friend from the Christian Coalition to support net neutrality.
As people have shared stories with Joan about their loss of relationships - both friends and family members - she has witnessed their pain and built a better way to reconnect - Living Room Conversations.
As a conservative from a small coal mining town in Kentucky who worked for President W.H. Bush and three GOP Senators including Mitch McConnell, John Gable later moved to Silicon Valley for his high tech career. As the former lead product manager for Netscape Navigator, he describes the shared vision of Internet pioneers where people accessing limitless information and connecting with people around the world could make wiser decisions and better appreciate differences. Instead, faced with too much noise, the Internet developed filter bubbles that divides us and cuts us off from each other.
Witnessing the destructive divisions throughout society, John created AllSides to free people from their filter bubbles by showing news and opinion side by side across the political spectrum.
Then Gable and Blades met, and realized that there solutions complemented each other, and together they could have much greater impact. It all ultimately comes down to relationships.
Living Room Conversations were designed to begin to heal political and personal disconnects. They empower smart kind people to connect across differences. The strategy is two friends with different viewpoints each invite two friends for a simple structured conversation where everyone has committed to agreements that include respect, curiosity and taking turns. These six people then follow conversation rounds that touch on everyone¹s deeper values, before listening to each other talk about their personal connections to the topic they have chosen. The closing is reflection and next steps. This is a deep listening practice and never a debate. It can be a starting place for connecting across differences.