Host Your Own Conversation

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.  — Winston Churchill


The goal of the Protect and Serve ABQ Campaign is to get Albuquerque residents of all walks to share stories of what it means to protect and serve in Albuquerque. The campaign seeks to inspire constructive community dialogue about the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve.

Sometimes the hardest part of having a difficult conversation is knowing where to start. These resources may be useful in helping you facilitate a dialogue about these tough issues.

Here are some suggestions on hosting a public dialogue meeting adapted from the US Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (read the full report at the link):

What do we mean by dialogue?
A dialogue is a forum that draws participants from as many parts of the community as possible to exchange information face-to-face, share personal stories and experiences, honestly express perspectives, clarify viewpoints, and develop solutions to community concerns.

Unlike debate, dialogue emphasizes listening to deepen understanding… Dialogue invites discovery. It develops common values and allows participants to express their own interests. it expects that participants will grow in understanding and may decide to act together with common goals. In dialogue, participants can question and reevaluate their assumptions. Through this process, people are learning to work together to improve [community] relations.

Below are some basic questions and possible answers to help you think about organizing a dialogue… They are meant to be a starting place. Answering these questions will help you better understand the purpose and potential of your effort.

Think about your community.
What’s going on in our community that a dialogue… could address?

Some possibilities-

  • There are people of different… groups in my neighborhood that I would like to know better.
  • There is an issue in my community that people need to talk about.
  • I would like to get the community to come together to tackle a common problem.
  • The time is ripe for change-people are ready to do something positive.


Think about your goals.
If there were a dialogue… here, what would be its goals?

Some possibilities-

  • To build new relationships.
  • To bring people together who do not typically talk to one another.
  • To influence attitudes of local law enforcement.
  • To better understand other cultures.
  • To create bonds between organizations that do not usually work together.


Think about who should be included.
Who should be in the dialogue?

Some possibilities-

  • My neighbors.
  • Members of my and other religious communities.
  • Police and community members.
  • Business owners.
  • Elected officials and community leaders.


Think about what format to use.
What type of discussion should we have?

Some possibilities-

  • A few small groups meeting once or twice.
  • A large public meeting with panelists and questions from the audience.
  • A series of small groups from across the community meeting for six weeks or more, concluding with a large meeting.
  • Study groups meeting from [racially/culturally/locally] diverse congregations, concluding with a joint worship service.


  1. Download the US DOJ Community Relations Guide
  2. View the videos from our TEDxABQ Salon and pick the topics you would like to explore with your group.
  3. When you host your meeting, welcome everyone and explain the ground rules.
  4. Play the video(s) you’ve chosen, then ask for reactions.
  5. Get the conversation started!

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