Focus on the Upstate 85 - My Neigbor's Voice - 12/24/17

Focus on the Upstate
Sunday, December 31st

Founders Victoria Chance and Mary Anne Inglis describe the political views that they saw coming between people in the 2016 elections, and how that inspired them to try to bring people back together at the dinner table.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome to focus on the Arab state a program dedicated to informing you about organizations that serve our community. How you can get involved with him. Here's your host Chris Evans. Good morning welcome to focus on the upstate my name's Chris Evans today my guests are Victoria chants and Maryanne is English. Both co founders of an organization called my neighbors always good morning ladies thank you for being here in the morning. My neighbors voice this is interest in this is a relatively young organization here in the upstate and normally the first question that I ask is what do you do. And who do you do it Corbett today I am a switch it up a little bit. We get some background just Victoria tell me about yourself. And how you came to start this organization. Well I am an educator I've been teaching English and Greenville county farm almost. 25 years Moneyline and congratulations thanks alum now continue that but what inspired me. To come up with the idea of my neighbors voice. Why is it wouldn't we all have the lives of those last crazy campaigning. And of what I observed in my classroom and wanna and observed in my community was a lot of tension that didn't seem to make. Sense. In the real world the medio woods and that tells one thing and and that I would say something else. The detention Israel and and this is how excited I am tired of an organization and I served on the board for the NSA far I'm OK and then after its farm has so they may call amazing faith and dinner dialogues and it brings people together. A different faith traditions and a very safe place. And asked them to share simple meal and then address certain questions based on their faith tradition. So last October a year ago. I was sitting in my living man and I listen let's listening to watching and an interview. With that heretic Bill Maher and Barack Obama okay. And to build knowledge and ask something about a lot of plenty things going on here. And President Obama said this is just you know one. We would not have the problems we have in this country right now if I can get into everybody's living room. And when he saw that I'm not. I know how to do that's okay. You do it was a Democrat. And you do it took in a safe place and you invite people to come. Not to debate but to listen. And that's than I thought. I know I know this I've done it list interface with other different religious traditions we can do it was community questions. And we can listen to one another stories about why we think the way we sake. So I'm that was in October of doing MM little election thing in November so little. It was a little one and is sort of turned everything upside down throws so many people. And that's and I thought I am not going to line and learning about any saying I am going to do something. And they are doing is to train people together. And and so I can't marry him. OK okay for analysts and moved to Marion now Marianne English now I. I'm I'm willing to bet that some people are listening audience may recognize your name yes and that more specifically rather than person that you married to Bob Inglis yes who was our fourth district congressman here in in the upstate. Several years ago yes as is that a little while yes and I understand victory in your husband's name is Bob as well. Ninety tends to bugs OK okay. So Mary and give us your background. And and how you got involved with my neighbors voice well. And she says that have been involved in the political world for many years with I has been in his campaigning. On the personal level Katrina have been friends her about that many years. And she she and I have had a history of bringing people together have different backgrounds together around a table. And it's new when she called me and said would you consider how mean our dinners and a little bit more focused way. I asked would be thinking about and she thome just what you heard and I said absolutely because I TU was quite distressed by the ten. Of discourse around their last election in 316. And felt like if we can't get created and passed. What the media was telling us to think about the other. Then we would actually find that we have more. Goals and thoughts and desires in common than we don't. And that our our goal of of having good chats and get education and an opportunities for our children and others are the same on a Whittier liberal or conservative it's just that we have a different path of how we want to get there. But instead of feeling like we're being pull apart but as to from past. I felt like it was really a wonderful thing to think about how we can be put together. Not that we would change people's minds on the different passive they're seeking but at least we would have people here the others. Viewpoint. And listen to it and then come away with a better understanding of their neighbors and that that neighbors athletes. On that and that's a really good point because. Let's talk now about my neighbors voice. How you guys found it'd how it's been going exactly what it is. Because was it Victoria you're telling me before the program it's not about changing minds it's just about bringing people together in building a community who. What we've just the way it was set it down just to begin queen's we started last January we have hosted and moderated. 25 gatherings and a year and responsive and it's been historically roughly one in every other week I'm asked a lot. Then we've been honest and great asset that we still we presented church's. Two great stats. Already have a history of coming together committee was to speed on disparate views but they're not afraid of one another. So that's so we started so leave its ways we targeted to cherishes and to those groups. We. And did three gatherings at trying mercy. And certainly did it on the property. Said that the homeless could join us and that was really wonderful and it was good to hear their voices. At the table. But we invite people to a volunteer to be a host. For eight to ten people in their home and they cook a simple simple mail thread and that suit and she's in a little chocolate nobly. Laura faced. But bring team brings them together ONS with the support mailman sit down and of the first we go around and introduce ourselves. And there's a moderator at the table he keeps things going. It who also has a timer this is an event does not exempt hardest on the track down to okay its people its status as exciting it ends at nine. And then we have decks of cards and four categories. And Lee. Past the cards around the table. The first card may be what are your thoughts about gun legislation. So whoever does that kind of vague talk about their thoughts about gun legislation and when they finish their answer that pass a debt to the next person. The next question may name one I ER ideas. Surrounding poverty in Greeneville and wanted to share experience with the homeless okay. They talk about fat. The trick as the beauty of this is that once she's answered your question no one and ask your question. No one says cool what about this no one can say anything they only have the opportunity. To lessen. And then the next question is a new question. So that would not talking back to reach out FAR answering the same question and then we end up talking Matt. Previous answer and that that won't do so every question is a new question. And in a new topic and topic okay. Give us an idea of he said this is big going on roughly a year now. 25. Or so dinners so far. House have been going Marianne. It's been going really well you know people come in a little bit nervous because not everyone knows when that there it's not as victorious and it's not a party. They come in and says like the first round is a little bit on men wondering what's going to happen here a bit by the time the second round starts. Everyone's body language actually changes and people he had a different body language when you're listening and not. Coming up with your next answer in defense of your thoughts. Counterpoint none can yet again and that as sonic counterpoint exercises listening exercise. And say actually at the end we have about twenty minutes where greatest free time where we can just discuss and which can clarify a any answer that she would like to clear fat or you can ask your neighbor declared that there answer. And that's usually when we get a lot of positive feedback from six. For example one Furman students said he's a communications major I've been taught Matt hope for years that debate is the most important thing and I just kind of listening to. The justice employment. And and we've had other ache in examples of that like I know you guys they're the nine failing because we never. Talk about such things we don't allow ourselves to talk about such things because they'll get into a fight and we don't get into fights well and that's. Really interesting point because opt I was I was just thinking as I was listening to you. A balance the people that I know in my life I've got friends who would differ politically for me. And we have who we have spent time. Talking about those kinds of things before and now we don't so much anymore because. Oh god partially because. It's it's likely to lead to disagreements yes some but partially because we've we've kind of rather spend the time having fun yes and it's easier to do that when you're not fighting a. So yes it could well I think the beauty of as Victorino being kept founders is that she's on the liberal land and I'm on the conservative end and we they're really enjoy each other's company and talking about. The different issues and how to come to pray stem from bad angles and come away just appreciating other even more and so I think. If we can be a model in that regard to others as we walked through this process and all the better that this isn't something to be afraid I have to tattooed a person you might differ from you currently that is actually that's something you can't enjoy it. And need to we'll find out that she will enjoy it as she listened to that either viewpoint this team present an around the table. And there's just think that's deeply American and I did this just. You know it's interesting that she said because I was thinking as you were talking about about the power of listening. That's it seems almost ingrained in our society especially with the the First Amendment. End of the right to free speech that people want to have their say that they want to be heard. And not necessarily hear other people's. No but it is just is important you know that the the old adage and that my mother told me it was you get to ears and one mouth for reasons yeah. Buried behind it at the half so. Victoria tell me one way and you came up with this idea. Did you expect it to go like it has now a year later. Yes OK didn't what you had in mind. Yes this is it. The cost is an action. I think a lot of people have been drawn to it. Because I think people have been a little bit afraid of concerns about the divisiveness created via another media. And when they hear about this opportunity. They're so excited to actually do something that demonstrates. That. What we've been told just not sure about the other or about ourselves. From either side right. And so I knew it would work. I am completely. And totally dedicated to this I know it will Clark and Hasan note that we will never not need it. This is it doesn't matter who's in office you know one of the things this is not a political. Event as much as it is. A civic event to the questions are about our community what happens here the only time he'd ever made to them to name a politician. Is we have a question that I ask you. Who is your favorite statesman. A politician. Passer president and and then people didn't the globe choose whomever they are and and and as fun. And his and I something else about this finding into the evening we have had fun together we've heard stories. We've laughed we've been surprised perhaps that own such as safe a safe. Place. That's it changes us and that's fine no this is working and is going to lack. You know what the other things that occurs to me is the in the power of sitting next to somebody and having a conversation. There is no denying the technological marvel that is the Internet. But there are some things that have happened because of it and yes that have made conversing with people. Rather more difficult inundated the anonymity that says that you find on the Internet makes it easier to say. Really rotten things about people on hand and then I imagine you would have more difficulty saying if you were sitting across from them at the table that there have there have been studies that have shown to strangers that you then they'll put two strangers together and just have them looking each other. For a few minutes and engage their reactions to each other. Before they started looking at each other after the sort of looking each other and they're much more affectionate with the each other. In in a indiscernible sensitive than before the dance so talk a little bit about about the the nature of just being there with somebody. Who and talking to them who you might disagree with. Well. I think because the way our structure as it is is you ask a question and then you get on to the next question and he cannot read that there's no rain to do anything that be respectful of that person. That you're saying the size and you and your thought she might have some other. But exhibition are not used you have an opportunity to shed that and it's not because it's rigid is just says it is this format. Glanced towards respect and that's what we won we won deep hospitality and we want. People it says Imus re discovered that we can really be nice to each other's that we. Don't have to see eye to eye on every. Died and ten at all. In order to have a candy and and to be quite honest if we're on the same it would be quite boring as a community here and that we as and we aired the strength that we have is that we are diverse men and that when we come together in our neighbors police that we're celebrate that diversity. By listening to each other. And you know that's a really interesting point because the diversity does had a strength but it's that common ground that we still have his people you know the the point that we can't agree on it right there really bring us together. Right and we. You sign that ensued as we go along in this evening event is that there are sent many points we had one gentleman he. Really went into answer every question I mean by the end of the first round he beat me. If I was sitting at your day that would be made here at the end of the first round he said. I couldn't answer every one of these questions and I bet and I happened to be the moderator that evening an asset yes well I think that's wonderful but that's not what we're doing here. But we'll put it occurs to me. Probably everybody at the table and answered that's just ask questions. Your your member of our community you can answer these questions. That. Well more more of the point that's part of the thing that you're trying to accomplish is to build that community to connect people to each other right and rather than think about I could have answered all of those questions. So could everybody else detailing you know put billion instead of taking the impetus on yourself to answer all the questions. Imagine what other people would have said about this thing. And that's what it was a PDF by the end of the night he came to that conclusion of it was wonderful to listen to everybody else's answers to these questions and I just discovered that we're more alike than different is exactly what he said. It was really neat as and that's less Wear and yet what we're aiming for is for people to see that you don't have TB intentioned as your neighbor instead he can be looking for the places that you can find common grand. And teamwork forward to make our community had better place as a result. Where do you expect this to go now that you've he's got a year under your belt what's what's what's going to what's gonna happen in my neighbors which for the next year. Well good things are good things. We should find out what this then another month or two about our nonprofit status okay certainly both sides and it's cashed the checks or Huffington met now let us know that that. We have a group and Tempe Arizona. That I was real we're working lands and label let's go out there and march and do moderator training there and get them sent up the we have. Ongoing events on our calendar on our web site. That has been heavy for instance Thursday generally they are also working list some students at Furman. We are going to need. Talking to Beth Israel. On February ferret anyone is welcome. Well that was going to be my next question is even mentioned that does this solves kind of started with. An interfaith forum in and you pay into churches Sid two address these sorts of things to them in and got involved that way. How do people get involved if they if they say he's just off chance there intrigued by what they heard. Has forty minutes. How to do that kind of people get in touch with you and and get involved with my neighbors voice. Well way you have a let's sign my name is slice. Dot ORG and they can get there and they didn't contest man and maybe they can sign up to host of to participate or to participate and moderated training eventually. I'm so so out there and they have web site his hobbies that easiest play. And again that's mine neighbors voice dot org. With this my neighbors poised on a orgy and go there there's contact information for both you and Marianne yes and it is there any sort of qualification or any any sort of particular. Type of person that you're looking forward to get involved. Yes it is definitely one brave people cook sizes sometimes you have to be a little bit. Braves to look into some stranger's home and and sit around a table and eat as yummy sued them answer questions on cards is. So there's there's that not friendly stranger to stranger miles I did okay said there's some risk involved. But it does so and so worth it because this is an investment in our community. It's it's not a bounce education it's not about changing anyone's mind as it down to the experience of deep hospitality and I'm Maryanne says tank. And listings that tenant. And that intense that experience. Is what I think is going into it over time made this community. Stronger. And more trusting of one another. Because they've had the experience themselves and it's not so immediate it that's stand there were letting on team. The one of the things that you mentioned early on Victoria is that you noticed this coming up in the classrooms that you knew that that. Then these political debates were causing friction in the in the classroom which is where you can't spend your day care center. He thought about doing the same sort of thing in in terms of the school. Yes well and I invited mind entire faculty and the faculty and I have some of them have also participated in the continued to participate. I have done it was small groups of students. And the students are darling and you were talking about the social media earlier. They did they Medicare Watson. Question rans trying as much as they experience exit or not. I don't know what was it what was so fascinating for them and what they loved was certainly. They were speaking and no one else was talking back at all Brian that they are also hearing. First hand lives. There appears it's your thoughts. They never did that they do it on the amount little click you say a little machine that they hold on their hands they love dance. Not because they are they knew the answer to the questions but but that they had that on that experience. And that's another reason why I know this works. I'll say I I would say as far as filling community we people have. That did not know each other to start with. Our team together after I am coming together around a table and that pain is this evidence community has been built which is wonderful. Marianne speak a little bit about it kind of follow up on what Victoria was saying about the younger people. You mentioned added that for the first time they were being listened to and you know that and it reminded me via the old adage that says children should be seen not heard you know and and and that last kind of a long time I mean he usually you think of that is as young children you know. Toddlers and in five golds and such but teenagers are I mean they are starting to develop their own identities both the political and apolitical. And talk a little bit. From from the perspective of somebody who's been there you know not none as silly yourself as having run for office but that you've at least been in that world. And getting young people involved in that way. And it's it's. Extremely important to have him people's voices because they are our future man is extremely import NT bring them to the table he says and county. Communicate with says he is making differently than ninety and a way. That Hamas respects because I ask saying I now teach admissions fiscal OK I teach English as a second language. And how about communication you know what I am about is all about communication and and ability and somebody from the ground up in communicating in another language. Say in this and that neighbors voice is and some ways the same thing and showing people how to communicate. I listening. And not die. By throwing. Grenades across frenzied divide that we now have that's like I have said before increase by the media. Let's say I have also used it with my students there and they were fascinated by it and just thought it was a great experience and say I think. Yeah and people again re going to be at Furman and and the spraying the data sweater. They demand Menem is going to be to make sure that we can in the right direction may be forward. And our conversations. Well it sounds like an excellent experience and I should probably should have said this is the beginning of the program but I try to keep this show. Away from politics and I think we've probably accomplished that here even though we discovered that it's okay to talk about politics. Regardless of of which side you land on. Marianne English and Victoria chance co founders of my neighbors voice have been my guest today thank you very much for being here thank T app fashion it's been my pleasure. Again the web site my neighbors police dot award G if you wanna get involved. Thanks again ladies I'm Chris Evans and this has been focused on the upstate. You've been listening to focus on the upstate with Chris Evans if you would like more information on today's topic email Chris. C Evans