Now We’re Talking

“We know that carefully facilitated dialogue taps into emerging community efforts…We have seen community members emerge as civic reflection facilitators in their own right and watched their neighbors lifted by the experience of compassionate, thoughtful dialogue focused on serious concerns.”  

— Yolo County Librarian

Where can people go to talk about things that really matter—not just with friends, but also with strangers, people you normally wouldn’t get a chance to meet? We think there may be no better place than a public library for these community conversations. In a library, everyone is welcome and all kinds of people come. So the question is: how can we make this happen?

Now We’re Talking (formerly known as Making A Difference) is a program we began in 2009 to train staff at libraries to facilitate meaningful dialogue, where life experiences and personal values could be shared by community members—in a no shouting/deep listening zone.

Since that time, California Humanities has trained staff from library systems across California including from Butte Co., Camarillo, Contra Costa Co., Fullerton, Imperial Co., Long Beach, Los Angeles, Mendocino Co., Oakland, Palo Alto, Riverside City and Co., Salinas, San Diego Co., San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara, Santa Monica, Siskiyou Co., and Yolo Co. Using literature, film, and art as springboards to reflect on issues in a civic environment has had wonderful and some surprising results.

We developed this program in collaboration with our training partner, the Center for Civic Reflection, and with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the California State Library through its Library Services & Technology Act program, and sponsorship of Califa. We at California Humanities are also building out these efforts through our California Reads program.

For more information about Now We’re Talking trainings, please email Senior Program Officer, Felicia Kelley.



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