The Public Impact of Dialogue

Laura Chasin

Director of the Public Conversations Project, Watertown, Massachusetts

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Even to this day, we've done relatively little work.

I can count the projects we've done on two waves of two hands, but because we went about it in a certain way we were able to invest time and resources and document what we did. This allowed us to reflect on it, extract principles on what we'd learned, and trying to turn them into principles and written stories about it. That is why our work has had an infinitely huge effect. So that's changed my mind about how the connection between local initiative in this field and macro changes in this culture can happen. I was ignorant before, and ignorant in a different way then. I think it's interesting that if you do a little piece, but do it in a certain way, and through the web, which of course happened since we started, it raises all kind of questions about these times you can transform conflict and what is the connection about what happens in the wrong and what happens out in the world. Jumping ahead, the piece we did with the pro-choice and pro-life leaders, 6 women, 6 years ago, it was unclear at times whether it would ever go public. We could talk about the effects it had on them, their public appearance, and their public speaking and so forth, but because they choose to write about it, that story has gone everywhere. We've been interviewed on Australian radio. There has been 2 textbooks written. They've gotten letters from all over the world. And every year it's still going, every year around January around the time of the Roe v. Wade anniversary, this year particularly around the 30th.