Facilitating Vulnerability and Power in New Hampshire Listen’s “Blue and You”
Renee G. Heath
University of New Hampshire, Durham, US
About Renee G.
Renee G. Heath, (Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder), professor in the Department of Communication, University of New Hampshire, studies public dialogue, interorganizational collaboration, and democratic decision making in organizations and communities. She is the co-founder and co-director of the Civil Discourse Lab at UNH.
This study examines the on-going work of New Hampshire Listens, a convener of deliberative conversations, specific to their work with police-community relationships. Attending particularly to the facilitators and planners of New Hampshire “Blue and You” in a small city, the study found systemic practices of early stakeholder involvement in the planning, holding space for disparate views, promoting storytelling, and creating intimate physical spaces addressed the vulnerability felt by participants. These practices distributed power among stakeholders, aided in preparing participants for the conversation, and fostered neutrality in the forum. They provide several ideas for how deliberation practitioners and scholars might respond to the present polarizing political context.