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We also wanted to see if civil dialogues increased trust and empathy enough to address profound differences within a diverse population.We worked with researchers at the University of Washington — communications professor Valerie Manusov and doctoral candidate Danny Stofleth — to design a valid scientific survey of participants’ attitudes and understanding of the group they met at ”Ask A …” events.We had learned a great deal about choreographing the events so the movement of participants from one conversation to the next went smoothly and audio recording at the event didn’t disrupt the conversations.That fall we received a ,000 University of Washington Amazon Catalyst grant and ,800 contributed by KUOW major donors towards a second season for 2017.We have separated ourselves by socio-economic status, race and ethnicity, geography and the media we consume.Social media creates a bubbles that feed us more of what we agree with — and less of what we don’t.
We have few opportunities to exercise the skill of asking neutral questions, of listening without judging.Putting people together to discuss the challenges of our time is what democracy is all about.But if we can’t talk through our different perspectives, we can’t come to a consensus.We planned six events, starting with another “Ask A Muslim” dialogue, and then expanding to new groups who had been portrayed negatively in the news as “others.” Five separate “Ask A …” events created space for “askers” to talk with Trump supporters, cops, transgender people, immigrants, and newcomers to Seattle.For our second season, we set a goal to evaluate whether participating in these events got people to see beyond stereotyped categories and recognize each other as individuals.
Our goal was to host one-on-one conversations with little or no moderation. The Seattle Council on American-Islamic Relations helped us find Muslims who were willing to answer questions.