Project LISTEN pro-actively engages opposing viewpoints to better understand them.
The initial motivation was that there are viewpoints I do not understand, and wanted to.
Someone on one side has an opinion that is unpopular on the other. The propensity on the other side often is to dismiss the person as stupid or selfish. From experience I know that is rarely an accurate explanation, especially if that opinion is held by tens of millions of people. So I want to understand the actual explanation. Hence, Project LISTEN.
Second, if we are going to advocate for open-minded cooperation across ideologies, we need to “walk that walk.” We need to, ourselves, be able to listen to and understand people we disagree with. Hence, Project LISTEN .
Third, as I got into building the methods and tools of accomplishing this (tragically, it’s not as simple as just bellying up to a bar to gab politics, especially during COVID), I realized that some of the tools might be useful to other people, in understanding opposing viewpoints.
So the current phase of Project LISTEN is to refine those “Tools of Understanding.” We’re starting out with less controversial topics, in manageable settings (example: within Miami Beach, discussing the closure of Ocean Drive). We will gradually expand their application to more controversial issues and broader regions.
- The project’s “Phase 0.1” launched early May, 2021.
- We iterated and launched “Phase 0.2” in July, 2021.
- Iterated again and launched “Phase 0.3” in October, 2021. This phase is currently active.
- We intend to then launch a fourth iteration in November. This will be the first iteration deployed in multiple geographic locales, ideally across conflicting ideological perspectives. That should enable us to measure and understand differences in viewpoints among ideologically different geographies. And that, is exciting.
You can follow regular updates in our journal, “Updates and Learnings from Project LISTEN.”