Civil Pen Pals as a Way to Know the Other

by Susan Leem, associate producer

my bullet-proof spineAfter listening to our On Being's Civil Conversations series, Michigander Carolyn Peterson wrote us expressing her hope for real-life opportunities to engage civilly with others differing in perspective:

"I would like someone to set up a website in which people could find political pen pals for civil, substantive conversations. For example, I am a liberal Christian Democrat who would like to ‘talk’ with a fundamentalist Christian Tea Party supporter. We would agree to stay engaged, to share sources, to treat each other with respect."

We’re curious about this possibility as well. One of the objectives of The Civil Conversaions Project was "beginning new conversations in families and communities." Maybe it could it function like a Match.com site, which, instead of pairing you with a romantic partner, would pair you with your political opposite — though the two need not be mutually exclusive of course! Many of us could get behind Ms. Peterson’s ground rules to “stay engaged, share sources, and treat each other with respect.”

How might we going about doing this? Have you experienced a positive “substantive conversation” in this kind of intentional manner? How would you design such a regular encounter or opportunity in everyday life?

About the image: A self-portrait of a woman with two titanium rods secured in place with long screws and other hardware who is looking for some “old school style pen pals” that “want to talk about the world, art, music, share ideas, etc.” and “connect with people” she “would normally never get a chance to meet.” (photo: Katie Dureault/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0 )

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  1. doublade reblogged this from americanpublicmedia and added:
    Please? I really think that something like this would be a great way to help others not only understand where others are...
  2. americanpublicmedia reblogged this from beingblog
  3. beingblog posted this