We recently began working on The Accountable Community Project™. One of the first steps was a series of conversations in a community around what really goes into building an accountable community.
The conversations were fun, serious, thought provoking, stimulating, cathartic, real, heartfelt and totally enlightening.
We brought together people from very diverse backgrounds. We had a former city mayor and a former convict. We had a recovering drug and alcohol addict and a small business owner. We had spiritual leaders and business people. We had younger and older aged people. And, we had people without tattoos and with a bunch of tattoos.
The environment was one where everyone was able to see each other as an equal. The foundation of equality was critical for a successful conversation. You can read about different challenges that people have, but it is incredibly powerful when you hear the words come out of a person’s mouth and you experience their comments first hand.
Could it really be as simple as a conversation?
Something changes when you sit and listen to people whom you do not usually find yourself in conversation with. These people shared from their heart real life issues. They told the truth about what they saw happening in their communities, in their lives.
As we had these conversations, you could see what changed in the room was people’s perceptions of each other.
You never know how people can help each other. You don’t know who knows what. And, you don’t know who needs your help until you listen.
You are not going to listen to someone unless you see them as an equal. When we see differences in people we fall into the trap of not seeing everyone as equal. True equality comes when we see all people as human beings that just may be facing different situations and challenges.
Everyone has problems; they just may be different problems. Everybody has a perspective; it just may be a different perspective. When you look at things from each other’s perspective you position yourself to create something that works for everyone. When you bring multiple perspectives together you have the potential for greater creativity and better solutions.
People tend to associate and seek out like-minded people.
We may think we know the real problems but that doesn’t mean that we do. Only when we expand the people we talk with, listen to and seek input, do we have the opportunity to understand all perspectives and create meaningful change in a community.
These groups of people we brought together were transformed, just as we were. At the end of an hour and a half they knew each other enough to hug each other. Not only did they learn from each other and see different perspectives but they grew to care for each other.
People were connected through conversation and there was a willingness of the people to help each other. Can you imagine what can happen in a community where all people start talking to each other, start listening to each other and start caring about each other?