The Status of the American Dream

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The Status of the American Dream

In Living Room Conversations, six people come together to get to know one another in a more meaningful way - while also exploring a contested issue. Guided by a simple and sociable format, participants practice being open and curious about all perspectives, with a focus on learning from one another, rather than trying to debate the topic at hand.

The Living Room Conversation Ground Rules

Be Curious and Open to Learning

Listen to and be open to hearing all points of view. Maintain an attitude of exploration and learning. Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking.

Show Respect and Suspend Judgment

Human beings tend to judge one another, do your best not to. Setting judgments aside will better enable you to learn from others and help them feel respected and appreciated.

Look for Common Ground

In this conversation, we look for what we agree on and simply appreciate that we will disagree on some beliefs and opinions.

Be Authentic and Welcome that from Others

Share what’s important to you. Speak authentically from your personal and heartfelt experience. Be considerate to others who are doing the same.

Be Purposeful and to the Point

Notice if what you are conveying is or is not “on purpose” to the question at hand. Notice if you are making the same point more than once.

Own and Guide the Conversation

Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the quality of the conversation by noticing what’s happening and actively support getting yourself and others back “on purpose” when needed.

Though feedback is consistently positive, some people are concerned about managing people that dominate the conversation as well as off-topic, or disruptive situations during the Living Room Conversation. We offer these tips:

  • Everyone shares responsibility for guiding the conversation and is invited to help keep the conversation on track.

  • The group can decide to keep track of time in some way to help people remember to keep their comments similar in length to others. Soft music when the time is up is a great reminder.

  • If an area of interest has arisen that has taken the group off topic, ask the group if they would like to set aside the new topic for a separate Living Room Conversation.

  • If someone is dominating, disruptive or has found their soapbox, respectfully interrupt the situation, refer to the Ground Rules and invite everyone to get back on track with the current question so the group can fulfill the current Living Room Conversation.

  • If the group opts to shift from the format of the Living Room Conversations, please provide us with feedback for future learning. Thank you!

Rounds/Questions: The Living Room Conversation Starts Here

A Living Room Conversation is designed to flow through 6 rounds; 5 rounds with questions and the closing. During some rounds, each question will be addressed. In other rounds, the multiple questions are intended as conversation starters and you need only respond to the one or two that matter the most to you. In the event the conversation wanders off track, we will refer to this Conversation Guide to get it back on track.

Round One: Getting Started / Why Are We Here?

  • What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round Two: Hopes and Concerns for The Future

Answer one or more of the following:

  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your personal and / or professional life?

  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you “tick”?

  • What most concerns you about your community and/or the country right now and long-term?

Round Three: The Status of the American Dream

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer one or more of the following questions:

  • How do you describe the current American Dream? Is it alive and well?

  • What do you find inspiring about your personal American Dream?

  • Do you think the American Dream is unique to America? If so, how?

Round Four: What Are We Learning Here?

Answer one or more of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful / valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation.

  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on this topic?

  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?

Round Five: Accomplishment and Next Steps

Answer both of the following questions:

  • What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?

  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Closing – Thank you! Please complete the feedback form to help improve Living Room Conversations.

Host & Participant Feedback Form – for immediately following the conversation

Please hand this in tonight! Or take pictures of your completed form and email them to

Host, Location & Topic:

(Please use the back of this form for expanded answers.)

  1. What was most satisfying, enriching, or valuable about your experience in this conversation?

  2. What would have made this a better experience for you and your group?

  3. What did you learn about the concerns of others in the group? Did you take away any new thoughts or feelings about those who disagreed with you? If so, what?

  4. As a group, did you discover any surprising common ground – something that most of you agreed upon?

  5. Did you feel any shift in your relationship with those in the conversation who were on the “other side” of the issue? If so, please describe.

  6. May we share your feedback publically as first-hand experience with the Living Room Conversations project?  Yes  No

  7. Would you consider hosting a similar gathering in your home and encourage family and / or friends to participate in a Living Room Conversation?  Yes  No

  8. Please keep me informed about Living Room Conversations!  Yes  No

  9. Do you have more detailed feedback or advice to share with us? If yes, can we contact you?
     Yes  No

Name (optional):


Privacy statement: Your contact information, including name, email and phone number will be used only for the purpose of gathering your feedback, unless the box in #7 was checked “yes.” If checked yes, we will add you to our monthly email communication list

Living Room Conversations is an open source project. Please use, share and modify with attribution to

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