Mini-sessions at a Listening Project

We tried a new kind of listening project at a climate march in Sacramento, California, USA. It included a listening booth in which we did mini-sessions with people. Five of us did two- to three-minute-each-way mini-sessions with about forty people.

We decided to do mini-sessions instead of one-way listening because at an earlier listening project, we’d found that listening one-way sometimes didn’t contradict people’s chronic patterns of talking without listening—especially when the RCer was a woman and the person talking was a middle-aged white man.

Our booth consisted of several pairs of chairs under a shade structure. At the top of the structure we posted a big sign that said, “Listening Exchange: Share your hopes, fears, ideas.” We also had a jug of water and cups available for anyone passing by.

The RC care-of-the-environment-goal poster with non-RC language and the photo of an elephant on it was on display. We also had Sustaining All Life pamphlets for sale at a discount. When someone wanted more information about RC, we got their name and contact information and gave them the RC website address.

Some of us asked people who were walking by, “Do you want to try our listening exchange?” Or, “What is your vision for humanity and the planet?” to help point their attention away from distress. Others of us mingled in the crowd away from the booth, giving people attention or offering a listening exchange as seemed appropriate.

The listening was fun. One young woman talked about being excited to be at her first march. Another woman talked about difficulties communicating and connecting with her conservative sister. One person said, “This is the best table I’ve ever seen at an event,” but didn’t want to do the listening exchange. A young woman took a photo and gave me a hug but also did not want to do the listening exchange. Some people did more than one round of mini-sessions with us.

I would do a few things differently next time. It would be good to check in with each other more during the event, and maybe have a formalized way of doing this. We did a closing circle in which we each took two minutes, but I would have liked more time at the end. We also should have thought more about how to talk about RC. We had Sustaining All Life pamphlets and small handouts with RC contact information, but we should have had a good short answer for when people asked us who we were.

Megan Elsea

Sacramento, California, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 190, January 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00