When was the last time you were able to have a civil conversation with someone who had a different viewpoint than you when it came to something like politics, religion, race, or immigration? If you said “it’s been a while,” you’re not alone. Disagreements have turned into dislike, distrust, and disrespect. In fact 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level.
The Kansas City Public Library is taking a lead role with the intention of changing that. The Library invites patrons to sit down and connect through conversation during the first National Week of Conversation, April 20-28, 2018. It gives people across the country an opportunity to participate in events and discussions with the goal of gaining a better understanding of others’ views and experiences.
The Library is one of two “premiere partners,” with the Boston Public Library, leading conversations on such topics as immigration, politics, poverty, and race in a civil manner. Nationwide, more than 50 organizations have signed up – schools, nonprofits, churches, activist groups, and of course, libraries.
“Libraries have always been a trusted, welcoming place for everyone in our community,” says Carrie Coogan, the Library’s deputy director for public affairs and community engagement. “Now more than ever, we treasure our role in helping to facilitate programs and opportunities for the community to have thoughtful, inclusive and productive conversations.”
The Kansas City Public Library and the public policy nonprofit Consensus are hosting a series of local gatherings:
- Coming to America: Who Should Be Welcome, What Should We Do? | Tuesday, April 24, 2018 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
- Book Discussion: Not a Crime to Be Poor | Wednesday, April 25, 2018 | 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. | Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
- Conversations in Black: A Community Conversation About Race | Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 4-6 p.m. | Southeast Branch, 6242 Swope Pkwy.
- Political Fix: How Should We Get American Politics Back on Track? | Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
- Coming to America: Who Should Be Welcome, What Should We Do? | Saturday, April 28, 2018 | 1 - 2:30 p.m. |Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
When you do sign up to take part in the National Week of Conversation, let your friends know. Share on your social media with #NWOC.
“We hope the Kansas City community jumps into a conversation,” Coogan says. “We are all in this together, so we need to work to help understand each other.”
All events are free. For a full list of #NWOC conversations and activities, click here.
Interested in going beyond #NWOC? Check out these books and resources: