Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future

by Margaret J. Wheatley. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2002.

"Real change begins with the simple act of people talking about what they care about." With this premise, Margaret Wheatley encourages and instructs readers in the practice of vital conversation. Such conversation aims not at promoting sociality, but at transforming our lives and our world. Like Robert Putnam's 'Bowling Alone', 'turning to one another' asserts that we have become people isolated from relationships of mutual trust and support. For Wheatley, the most fundamental ways to heal our isolation are by giving voice to our experiences and by listening to others. The book explores the conditions of good conversation—including equality, curiosity, courage, diversity, and the willingness to let go of certainty. It then presents some propositions for readers to ponder: "We can't be creative if we refuse to be confused," and "There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about." Wheatley concludes with resources for persons willing to host vital conversations. Chief among these resources are "conversation starters," or short essays that provide topical content for small groups. "What do I believe about others?"; "What am I willing to notice in my world?"; and "When have I experienced working for the common good?" are examples. Congregants who seek to connect with each other on issues important to them will find this book, along with Katie Day's 'Difficult Conversations', essential.