The civic engagement group New Hampshire Listens (NH Listens) – a part of the Carsey School of Public Policy – and the national collaboration group Urban Rural Action were recently awarded a New Hampshire Humanities (NHH) grant to implement the Deepening Connection and Understanding Across New Hampshire’s Urban/Rural Divide program. This new, nonpartisan initiative aims to use humanities to build connections, strengthen collaboration skills and promote understanding across distance and difference in New Hampshire.
The program is open to all New Hampshire residents, 18-plus years of age, from urban, suburban, and rural areas who want to build relationships and explore different perspectives across the Granite State’s geographic, socioeconomic, and ideological divides. Participants will build skills for constructive conversation across differences and apply them to grapple with challenges such as systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic inequality.
"A mix of perspectives helps us recognize and temper our own biases – and we all have them. There is so much frustration right now – we are hoping this can be a chance to build trust and increase understanding beyond the sound bites."
“One of our core values at NH Listens is collaboration,” said Michele Holt-Shannon, executive director and co-founder of NH Listens. “We know collaboration can be hard, and we believe solving complex problems requires it. A mix of perspectives helps us recognize and temper our own biases – and we all have them. There is so much frustration right now; we are hoping this can be a chance to build trust and increase understanding beyond the sound bites.”
When the program kicks off after Labor Day, 40 to 60 participants will gather online on several occasions for reflection and small group brainstorming. Participants will also build connections and deepen understanding via a private online community. The final event will be a public storytelling session in which participants share experiences in the program.
“We are thrilled and deeply thankful to continue this work with the support of New Hampshire Humanities at such a critical time in the history of our state and our nation,” said Ethan Underhill, Urban Rural Action’s New Hampshire state director. “Good citizens may not be aligned on everything, but in making an effort to understand each other, disagree better, and take action on areas of joint interest, all of us can play a pivotal role in reweaving the social fabric of our communities.”
This grant was made available through New Hampshire Humanities’ Community Projects Grants program, which enables nonprofits and educational institutions to design and carry out multi-faceted projects.
“New Hampshire Humanities is honored to support such an important initiative as we work to connect all people in New Hampshire with inspiring and challenging ideas,” said Anthony Poore, NHH executive director. “Building relationships and exploring different perspectives across the Granite State is an essential element of our work, and we believe critical for lifelong learning, civic engagement, and genuine civil dialogue and discourse.”
Learn more about the Deepening Connection and Understanding Across New Hampshire’s Urban/Rural Divide program online.