In the fall of 2019, a team of researchers at Howard University’s Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies hosted a total of 18 small-group forums. Strangers of all ages, ethnicities and geographic origins sat down, and broke bread across the table in small groups. They listened to live music. They created a safe space to share their cultures, their feelings about their neighborhoods, and to brainstorm how they could better hear each other.
More than 100 strangers of all ages, ethnicities and geographic origins sat down, and broke bread across tables in small groups. Residents created a safe space to share their experiences and feelings about their neighborhoods. Neighbors danced to live go-go music. They brainstormed how they could see and hear each other better.
As researchers continue to analyze these forums, a key finding is that more of them are needed. Below are tools for groups to host discussions of their own. We invite local organizations, schools, faith and other civic groups to use these discussion guides and videos as a way to build community, practice empathy—and speak across cultures.
Below are free videos and discussion materials that allow other groups to host their own forums, and continue the conversation about neighborhood history, identity and how technology is altering the social glue in communities.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Thanks to Humanities DC, the Interactivity Foundation, and Howard University for sponsoring these forums.
Thanks to Brink Media for providing creative and video support, and Chris Jenkins for being an excellent creative director.
Thanks to the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office of African American Affairs, Next Door and Google’s DC office for providing other in-kind support.
Special thanks to Howard University doctoral students, including Communicating Across Culture graduate assistant Jacqueline Jackson, as well as graduate students who also served as forum facilitators:
Tanya Gardner, Kellon Bubb, Bryan Jenkins, Jasmine Goodman, Taryn Myers, Shamilla Amulega, Melissa Harris, Christin Smith. Thanks also to the non-Howard community facilitators, Kisha Allure, Dr. Bernard Demczuk, Dr. Carolyn Byerly, Chair of CCMS and Kurt Wirth. Thanks to Drs. Shannon Wheatley and Suzanne Goodnea Lea of the Interactivity Foundation for helping to train facilitators. Thanks to Ronald Moten of Don’t Mute DC for bringing your passion and networks, and Dr. Loren Coleman for evaluation and assessment, and Maleke Glee for helping to produce the final toolkit and roll-out.
And a special thanks to Preservir Band for an unforgettable live go-go performance at the Reeves Center, and Ben’s Chili Bowl for feeding discussion participants.