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Thanks for Listening

Author: Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program

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"Thanks for Listening" spotlights efforts to bridge the political divide in the U.S. through dialogue and collaborative processes, profiling the important and often courageous work of individuals and organizations who are helping citizens engage with one another on challenging topics. Episodes will dive deep into such issues as: managing difficult family dynamics and relationships affected by partisan differences; bridging the divides in Congress, the media, and in our social media spaces; training youth to move through conflict and toward civic responsibility; embracing dialogue in the face of extremism; engaging with others on highly emotional issues; and on working to restore divided communities. We hope that through the everyday examples of ordinary and extraordinary people all over the country, listeners will find optimism that we can—and are—moving beyond partisan divides, as well as inspiration to become part of the solution.

"Thanks for Listening" is made possible by the generous funding of the American Arbitration Association International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation.
9 Episodes
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Our guest, Pearce Godwin, founded and now leads the Listen First Project, and has been steadily building the Listen First Coalition—some 300+ member organizations all working to bridge divides and bring people in this country back together again. Pearce shares his insight about the challenges of coalition-building, the powerful impact that Listen First Coalition members have had by joining forces, and seizing on this moment of COVID-driven isolation to use social media and digital platforms to enable people to bridge rather than deepen divides.
Welcome to the seventh episode of our podcast, Thanks for Listening! This episode explores the challenges inherent in online political engagement. While some of us may have had positive experiences connecting with others around political issues online, we also have seen online spaces become unhelpful, potentially harmful echo chambers for what we already believe, rather than sites for learning from those who see the world differently. With more social interaction moving into the virtual world as we weather Covid-19, these challenges are even more urgent. What role does social media play in perpetuating or even amplifying divides? Is there hope for a richer, healthier form of online political dialogue? Our guest on this episode is an expert in the field of digital media and learning. Professor Andres Lombana-Bermudez explains some of the technological and sociological factors that amplify polarization on social media, and also shares an example of a social media platform that it is proving that online communities actually can work together to foster constructive dialogue and engagement.
What can communities do to bridge divides and address simmering tensions before they boil over? Our guests on this episode, Becky Monroe and Bill Froelich, ask this question each day in their work at the Divided Community Project, based at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University.  As we heard in Episode 3, facilitated dialogue helped communities in MN heal in the traumatic aftermath of the killing of Philando Castile. The Divided Community Project supports communities seeking to reach across divides and engage tension before it boils over, and builds their capacity to engage when a crisis does erupt.  Join us in this episode as Becky and Bill describe the origins of the Divided Community Project, the challenges of surfacing underlying and long-standing tensions, and how they engage with communities to “listen for the divide.”
Communities in Kentucky and Massachusetts convene for dialogue about families, life, and politics
In this episode, journey with us to Letcher County, KY - the heart of Appalachian coal country.  We'll examine both the reality of divides that exist, even in unexpected places, and the inherent fallacy of the divides we buy into by believing the stereotypes we hold about others - and about ourselves.
On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. In the weeks and months that followed, systemic issues that had been present below the surface in Falcon Heights and surrounding cities erupted into the open. The atmosphere was one of rage, pain, resentment, and distrust. In some ways, this was an unlikely setting for constructive dialogue that had any chance of rebuilding the community. And yet, that is the story that we hear in Episode 3 of "Thanks for Listening". We meet John Thompson, Philando’s close friend, who talks about his own activism after the shooting, and what happened when he became involved in a series of facilitated conversations that brought together citizens, activists, city leaders, and police officers. We also hear from Sharon Press, who pulls back the curtain on these conversations and explains how she and others went about the hard work of organizing them in order to create opportunities for healing. Almost three years to the day after Philando was shot, John and Sharon reflect on their personal journeys, their unexpected friendship with one another, and how their communities have changed.
What would happen if people learned to flex their “dialogue muscles” at a very young age? What if, before developing a lot of disconnecting conversational habits, we developed the ones that allow us to engage constructively and effectively with others, even those with whom we disagree? In Episode 2 of Thanks for Listening we’ll be talking about—and to!—teenagers who are discovering how to engage with the skills that bridge divides at a moment when they are still developing their identities and shaping the way they interact with the world. We hear from Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Gretchen Brion-Meisels about adolescent brain development, how adolescents are influenced, and how they are uniquely suited and flexible to the work of dialogue. And we are excited to host Coutia, Huy, and Jacob in studio—three amazing teens who participated in a radical experiment called The “Can We?” Project—along with “Can We?” project co-creator and facilitator Deb Bicknell. These three young adults show us exactly what is possible when we ask, “can we?”
Welcome to the first episode of a new podcast, Thanks for Listening. This podcast will spotlight efforts to bridge the political divide in the U.S. through dialogue and collaborative processes, profiling the important and often courageous work of individuals and organizations who are helping citizens engage with one another on challenging topics. Episodes will dive deep into such issues as: managing difficult family dynamics and relationships affected by partisan differences; bridging the divides in Congress, the media, and in our social media spaces; training youth to move through conflict and toward civic responsibility; embracing dialogue in the face of extremism; engaging with others on highly emotional issues; and on working to restore divided communities. We hope that through the everyday examples of ordinary and extraordinary people all over the country, listeners will find optimism that we can—and are—moving beyond partisan divides, as well as inspiration to become part of the solution. In this first episode we’ll look at politics around the Thanksgiving table—the start of a long month of family gatherings and meals to celebrate the holidays.
From a public school to negotiations over the Iran nuclear program to a neighborhood in Baltimore, group decisionmaking is inevitably impacted by who’s at the table—and who’s not. In this inaugural episode of “The Listening Room,” we hear about three very different experiences trying to get individuals to the negotiating table—and what happened once they were there.
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