What Is So Great About Community Conversations? You can be the change!

community conversationsRetake Our Democracy is launching a citywide campaign to hold community conversations in all kinds of settings. We will be having deep conversations about social and economic justice in town halls, community meetings, at house parties and by canvassing, and not just using your standard canvassing approach, but by going much deeper and actually listening to our neighbors. We will have Community Conversations launches every Wednesday and Sunday at 4pm at 1420 Cerrillos and this will extend into the indefinite future. At launches, we will match you with a partner, provide a brief training (it is so easy, training is really not very necessary) and provide you handouts. Once trained, you can conduct your conversations on your own.

EquityRight now the Community Conversations campaign is in support of Chainbreaker Collective’s Equity Summer and their ten-point People’s Platform. Click here for more on that or watch the short video at the bottom of this page. But the overarching purpose is to identify people who agree with us, that we as a City and as a State can do better, we can achieve a more justice and equitable community. To achieve this, we need more people organized and committed to build the power to effect change and these conversations will engage a broader community, educate and organize them into a power base that can hold our elected officials accountable and together to create change.

Over time, we will continue to use this technique to talk with people about how they feel about Santa Fe creating a public bank, about how they feel about New Mexico creating healthcare for all through the Health Security Act. The point is that by learning and using  the Community Conversations technique with neighbors, you will be able to repeat the process in other contexts. This is what community organizing is all about. And from those Retake volunteers who have been testing Community Canvassing, it is working, they are having great conversations, they are identifying people who are concerned and want to get involved, and they are getting to know their neighbors much better.

We explored a canvassing technique called, Deep Canvassing a research-based approach to canvassing that is entirely different from traditional canvassing where you go door-to-door with a tightly structured message that is to be conveyed at every door, no matter who answers. After piloting the strategy we made some adjustments to align the approach to our purposes and Community Conversations was born. What is different about Community Conversations?

  • You begin by talking with the residents on your block and surrounding neighborhood and have conversations not with some random person on a route, but with your neighbors.
  • While you work from a loose script, you start by asking questions of your neighbor and listen to their stories as you share yours. It sounds sort of silly, but from our piloting of this approach we have found people remarkably ready to talk if they feel you are not trying to convince them or sell them on a candidate or policy.
  • And you are not trying to persuade anyone of anything. You are having a very casual conversation about social and economic injustice in Santa Fe and in New Mexico sharing some information, but then listening keenly to how your neighbor feels about what you have shared.
  • Ultimately, the goal is to help your neighbors identify how by being more involved in the community, they can advance some of their deepest moral values and help achieve economic and social justice.
  • And of course, through this process we will identify those people who instantly are offended by the depth of injustice in our City and want to get involved and the others who may not be ready to get involved, but want to be kept informed.  In other words, the process helps us build our base of informed power so that we can effect change.

I guarantee if you go through one of our brief trainings and conduct community conversations on your block, you will be blown away by how receptive people are and how many people you identify who want to get involved. So, please let us know you are coming by writing us at volunteer4retake@gmail.com.