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June 25, 2010

Public Conversations Project

Yesterday I met with board members of Public Conversations Project, an organization that brings people together to talk when they have reached an angry impasse over some matter of public or political concern. A great example is a series of conversations between pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates in Boston that started in 1990 and lasted more than a decade. PCP provides workshops, materials, and hand-on assistance. It operates both in the US and abroad. For an example of an overseas project, see this excellent conversation between Israeli and Palestinian journalists. PCP is a peer of several organizations with which I have worked more closely: National Issues Forums, Everyday Democracy, and AmericaSPEAKS. One distinctive contribution of PCP is to draw deeply on methodologies developed for family therapy.

While PCP applies family therapy to community-building and democratic work, Bill Doherty and his colleagues at The Families and Democracy Project use community organizing techniques to address issues that are usually treated by family therapists. Over-scheduled suburban families encounter stress when, for example, siblings have simultaneous, mandatory sports practices. Doherty and colleagues realized that this is a shared problem that can be addressed politically: parents should band together and demand more rational practice schedules.

The dynamics are not completely different in families, communities, and polities; they all need combinations of talk and work.

June 25, 2010 9:17 AM | category: none



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