Throughout ENVS 295, we have been looking at effective environmental engagement as a means to carrying out meaningful action. Amidst the establishment of partnerships with various organizations, student groups have each proposed a potential project that would fulfill this goal of successful action. In the case of our proposed project/action, we aim to work with our partner organization Crossing Party Lines (CPL) to 1) train Portland youth how to moderate conversations between people of opposing views and 2), carry out a conversation-based meetup on an environmental issue.
Because conversation is such a personal action, it can be difficult, or even unrealistic, to set predetermined goals for those participating, as the outcome of the conversation may greatly vary between people. That being said, goal setting is an important step in any project because it allows for later assessment of how effectively the action was carried out. For our CPL partnership project, the goals are as follows:
- The Portland college-aged youth engaged in the moderator training leave the program with a better understanding of both the importance of engagement across difference and use their new skills to more effectively communicate with those around them.
- Further, these newly trained moderators would seek out situations in which to use their skills and could teach others in the ways of constructive communication.
- Participants of the meetup ideally have somewhat changed perspectives of the people with different ideas from their own and less overall bias.
- Additionally, the participants should be more open to the idea of talking to people with ideological differences and want to continue seeking out these experiences.
It should be stated that although in an ideal world all of the goals stated above would be met, it is not necessary to hold each person involved to these standards. For some, the experiences may not do much in changing their perceptions while for others it could be extremely influential. Understanding these various outcomes is next, and a breakdown can be found in our post “Assessing Meaningful Conversations.”