A group of us in Phoenixville, PA—five mothers concerned with the future we’re creating for our children—created the Phoenixville Community Conversation Project. While the most extreme voices get the most airtime, causing many to withdraw, structured conversation can bring us back together.
We’re hosting a series of Living Room Conversations, allowing our community to grapple with hard issues. We’re building trust, deepening relationships, and increasing a sense of belonging.
Coronavirus means we’re shifting to virtual conversations, but participants are more committed than ever. During conversations we listen generously, and that a practice that spills over into our lives. “Because of these conversations,” shares participant Stephanie Root, “I’m conscious of how I listen. I assumed people wanted comments like ‘Yeah!’ I’m learning that being quiet and present is enough.”
Conversation helps us cultivate inner spaciousness that brings calm clarity in moments of high anxiety. “I’m learning to practice silent affirmation during our conversations,” said participant Linda Valloor. “Showing care without words helps me as a teacher and parent.”
Social connection doesn’t require physical contact. Dr. Catherine Renzulli, Principal of Phoenixville’s Schuylkill Elementary, was looking for opportunities to increase civic discourse. The Conversation Project inspired her to consider adding a “question of the week” prompt in her weekly email blasts to equip families with tools for connection while schools are closed.
These are just a few examples coming out of this movement in recent weeks. I’m so encouraged and inspired reading all of the work being done across this community.