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connect / 2018

The View From Here: Conversations About The Most Important Issues Of Our Time

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by Citizens Of Culture

The View From Here is a conversational event "symposium" that gives credence to diverse voices to spur civic engagement and media literacy around society's most polarizing issues.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

With the support of LA2050 we hope to make LA the best place to CONNECT by creating intentional human-centered conversations 10 critical subjects and produce digital content continues the conversations online. All too often sensitive discussions live online and only cause greater division. By bringing into a room and beginning from a commonplace we are more able to show empathy, share perspectives, find clarity in our disagreements and more the conversation towards specific resolutions.

Which of the connect metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Rates of volunteerism

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to CREATE

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • Westside

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Advocate for policy
  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Increase participation in political processes
  • Influence individual behavior
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
  • Increase donations to organizations and causes

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to connect?

There are so many people who don’t know their neighbor’s views on immigration, and they are immigrants themselves. There are many couples who simply do not discuss gender equity. We have let ourselves become a society in which we avoid the difficult conversations in person for fear of intimacy and offense. Meanwhile, ignoring these problems only makes them worse. Members of marginalized groups suffer alone and silos of thought only grow more divided while the news reports half-truths that support biased thinking. Citizens Of Culture is an organization that uses art to develop critical thinking and emotional intelligence. With the support of LA2050 we will make LA the best place to CONNECT by pushing against these silos of cultural perspective with a multipart symposium to connect diverse groups.

The project is presented in multiple phases over 2 years.

Year 1: CALL: Conversation, outreach, and engagement.

Citizens of Culture will host 10-100person events bringing together Angelenos for intentional conversation. This means that 1,000 people in total will gather to discuss Racial Justice, Net Neutrality, Gender Equity, Technological Unemployment, Housing& Homelessness, Immigration, Religion/Spirituality, Economic Inequality, Climate Change, and Fake News/ Political Polarization.

Each event will feature small groups of 10 to share stories, humanize each discussion , center individual impact on the larger topic, which is often missing from political debate. The stories and experiences shared here will be highlighted to the groups of 100 to speak on how these human stories may have hit home or shifted perspective. Recap videos of the events will model how face to face conversation can be used to build shared values and bring the discussions to larger audiences. Each clip will end with local organizations working on solutions that are accepting donations and volunteers.

Year 2: RESPONSE: Collaboration, research and, practice.

Another issue we see is that voting and calling are one of the only ways individuals can speak to institutions but both are individual pursuits. We need to draft consensus based suggestions that express public concerns to our schools, businesses, government, and cultural institutions, that answer ‘What can be put into practice?” from our conversations. In the second year we will focus on 4 topics that were most engaged in from Year 1 and speak Truth to Power. The selected topics will comprise 4 cohorts to will convene in LA’s 4 corners North (NorthEast LA) South (South Los Angeles) East, (Hollywood, & Silverlake) and West ( Santa Monica, Venice). Each of these cohorts will reflect on the discussions from Year 1 and identify agreements or best practices that support modern etiquette and best practices for how the public would like to engage with institutions like government and business. These sessions will result in public letters as white papers and testimonial videos to be distributed directly to these institutions.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to connect

Because we are unfamiliar with these conversations often times we are clumsy with our language or triggered by our sensitivities to the subject matter. At times our personal insecurities override our desire to listen when we feel attacked even though all of these issues are far bigger than any one individual or group.

The way to CONNECT Angelenos is by starting with common ground. Individual passion for Los Angeles to be an amazing place for themselves and their families. This is an idea we can all get behind and refer back to as an agreement. We will talk to people who are not already talking about these issues by leveraging those people who are passionate to bring in new voices. We will ask specific invitees to bring one or two friends to participate and we will separate them into different groups.

Much of what we do is based in storytelling, an artistic medium that asks the individual to share a related anecdote that highlights their experience and perspective.

We can then tie this anecdote to a social issue that is often discussed in terms of policy or economy and look at the human impact of the decisions we make as voters on the macro level.

The more we engage, it increases social trust and activity and reduces polarity.The content we create shows that it is possible to have productive heartfelt dialogue around hot button issues as a clear challenge to media outlets that stoke polarization. We connect by coming together.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

Success for this project is multifaceted. The first thing we will be tracking is attendance to the events. With a capacity of 100 participants for each topic we will first need to make sure we hit a quota of at least 50 people to have enough groups of 10 to be worth while. The next thing we will be looking for is demographic and psychographic diversity. It is not enough to have a gender balanced racial diverse group. We also want to make sure we are intergenerational and welcoming people with various levels of education, experience, and ideologies to these conversations.

We can track these indicators with a registration survey and count attendance.

The other metrics we will be looking at is impact and impressions. We would like to be sure that the program itself is impactful for attendees so we will be asking for some feedback after the event and following up with volunteer groups to see if we have actually driven any new participation.

On the media side we will be counting views and shares to our content customarily but we will also be keeping an eye on our social media and newsletter sign-ups during the campaigns to see if we are generating more interest in they kinds of conversations at large.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In five years we hope that this method of engaging people in crucial conversations is closer to becoming commonplace and we hope that it begins to set the standard in media showing that honest conversations can be just as interesting and sensational as click bait and punditry.

For the organization, we hope that we are continuing to grow this work in Los Angeles and connect similar conversations to cities across the globe. It is our belief that the more that we