Listening locally.

The first step towards building a more collaborative world lies close to home. In the 21st century, we’re fortunate to have so many opportunities to engage with people across the globe – we can chat online with people we may never have met otherwise, keep in touch with friends in different countries, and keep up with news from all across the country. But when it comes to listening, it’s equally as important to direct our attention locally as it is to direct it globally.

It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.
- Angela Davis

As demand for news coverage shifts nationally – and digitally – it’s important for us to remember that the smaller communities we live in are equally as important as the broader global community we all take part in. One reason why we strive to emphasize the act of listening is that it reminds us that something as seemingly small as one conversation can have an incredible amount of impact. In the same way, listening locally is an important part of creating broad, positive, nationwide change.

Some quick tips for listening where you live:

1. Familiarize yourself with local politics in your county. Participating in local elections, getting to know your representatives, attending town council meetings, and familiarizing yourself with community organizations in your area are all great places to start.

2. Tune into your local TV or radio station, or check out news stories in your area on the Patch. Approach your local community the same way you do the rest of the world: with the knowledge that there’s always something more to learn.

3. Take active steps towards learning more about your community. Order from restaurants you’ve never tried, attend events you usually wouldn’t, and embrace opportunities to get to know your neighbors better, whether they’re from across the street or on the other side of town.

Whether we’re looking to make change in our local community, to build long-lasting relationships with the people around us, or both, the first step towards doing so is fostering a culture of listening and understanding. Watch this short clip from Millions of Conversations’ Depolarization Summit to learn about how local organizing leads to broader sustainable peace.

This listening tip is part of a weekly #PledgeToListen series which provides advice, examples, and perspectives on creating conversations across divides.

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