Frequently Asked Questions

If you have additional questions please call Nancy Polk (203) 397-2799 or Mary Broderick (860) 739-7866.
 
1. CAN WE OBSERVE A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION?
We encourage you to observe other Conversations. To obtain a schedule of upcoming conversations call Nancy or Mary."
 
2. CAN WE CHOOSE OUR OWN TOPIC?
Yes. This is a grant for a Community Conversation About Education. We suggest including “Education,” “Students,” “Schools,” or “Learning” in your title. Sometimes other topic titles are also acceptable. We will work with you to create a Power Point conversation starter using your topic and our model format."
 
3. CAN WE USE THE GRANT MONEY TO PAY MODERATORS AND RECORDERS?
These mini-grants are small and used to pay for food and supplies for the Conversation. Leftover funds are used for the Follow-up meeting. Though you may use the money to pay moderators and recorders, we highly recommend that you find willing volunteers in your community who will serve without expecting compensation. This also ensures that you retain the talent in your community for future conversations."
 
4. CAN WE BLEND TWO OR MORE TOPICS TOGETHER?
No. Our guides and Power Points focus on one discussion topic at a time. We have found that one topic more than fills the four hours we estimate are required to complete a conversation including registration, introduction and Power Point, a meal, discussion, survey, and reporting back to the whole group."
 
5. CAN WE INVITE A GUEST SPEAKER TO BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION?
No, the philosophy of the Community Conversation is that all participants are “experts” who come together to share their own feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Outside experts would conflict with this core belief of the Community Conversation. An outside speaker could be used for a follow-up session."
 
6. OUR COMMUNITY IS NOT VERY DIVERSE. CAN WE STILL HAVE A SATISFACTORY CONVERSATION?
Every community has people with diverse backgrounds and ideas about education. Check with the local school district for advice on reaching minority/immigrant partners. Different income groups also contribute to a richer conversation. Participants could be at different ages and stages of life. Your community has a mix of old timers and newcomers, teachers and local government officials, parents, students and employers, religious leaders, grandparents and young parents."
 
7. WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE CONVERSATION? IS THERE AN ACTION PLAN?
Schools and communities face serious challenges. By exchanging views with a diverse group of citizens, new ways to work together emerge. We expect you to continue the momentum generated by your conversation, to continue to meet and work on the issues that arose during the conversation. The goal is not consensus but rather a deeper understanding of the various viewpoints on a given issue."
 
8. CAN WE USE THIS MODEL FOR OTHER ISSUES?
We think the model of community engagement is an effective tool to use in a variety of settings. Every contentious issue facing communities today, from land use to budgets, can benefit by the participation of it citizens."
 
9. WE ALREADY HAD A SUCCESSFUL CONVERSATION. CAN WE APPLY FOR ANOTHER GRANT?
Yes. However, since you now understand the process, the mini-grant is smaller for alumni conversations."
 
10. WE HAVE PEOPLE WITH FACILITATION EXPERIENCE. DO THEY NEED TRAINING?
Yes. Many of the moderators we have trained have some prior experience with group facilitation. This is a unique form of moderation and we believe the training for both the moderator and the recorder is invaluable to making your Community Conversation successful."