New Civic Conversations Initiative Launching With ReCONNECT NC Day This Week


NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) is launching Civic Conversations as part of its three-year ReCONNECT NC initiative. IEI’s research found that North Carolinians are feeling more disconnected than ever, and they want to do something about it. Civic Conversations invites people from different backgrounds and perspectives to spend time together in real and rich conversation in which all listen first to understand as they discuss a topic that is concerning them or their community.

“There are so many big issues we need to work through in our communities right now – about jobs and education, racial issues, health care – and the only place to start is with one conversation with people who see things differently,” said Leslie Boney, director of the Institute for Emerging Issues. “Civic conversations challenges all of us to have that first conversation, then build from there.”

Civic Conversations is part of the national #ListenFirst movement which has reached millions of people coast to coast and is catalyzed by North Carolina nonprofit Listen First Project. The first step of Civic Conversations is committing to listen first to understand as each person who does so tips the scales toward a stronger and more equitable future for our state and better relationships in our daily lives.

“Conversations in which we listen first to understand are increasingly rare amidst the rising rancor and deepening division plaguing society. But we seek to make them the norm in North Carolina,” said Pearce Godwin, founder of Listen First Project. “A more connected North Carolina will be a stronger, more vibrant North Carolina. Conversations across differences create that connection. I look forward to seeing North Carolinians lead the rest of America in mending our frayed social fabric by bridging divides with conversation.”

ReCONNECT NC Day on August 14th is a special occasion for North Carolinians of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to come together in conversations on issues that matter to them, creating greater connection. Civic Conversations will engage communities to build skills and practice conversations across differences, while also inviting elected officials to publicly model civic conversations with one another.

Below are the ways North Carolinians are encouraged to participate in this culture-shifting #ListenFirst movement of conversations in our state. Learn more, explore featured conversation guides, and join the movement at

How to Participate in Civic Conversations

  • Commit to listen first to understand
  • Join or host a civic conversation in your community
  • Invite your elected officials to have a civic conversation
  • Join the conversation online using #ListenFirst and #ReconnectNC

Civic Conversation Principles

  • Listen first to understand
  • Be curious and open to learning
  • Suspend judgement
  • Maximize diversity of perspectives

Questions from optional Reconnect North Carolina conversation guide

  • In what ways do you see North Carolina connected? How are we disconnected?
  • How do you personally feel connected to your community?
  • What could help bring people together to bridge divides across our state?
  • What success connecting across differences have you seen or experienced?
  • What core values do you think North Carolinians fundamentally agree on?
  • What issue do you most wish we could solve to­­­gether, even if it seems impossible?
  • What actions can you personally take to reconnect North Carolina?