Juliana Tafur appreciates the importance of storytelling. As a journalist, she spent years traveling the world, documenting and eventually broadcasting the stories of others.
Now, this Floridian’s inviting people to reimagine the way we communicate with one another using those same principles.
“Sharing stories is so powerful because it allows us to see something in someone that we never saw before,” Tafur says. She’s spent the last few years working on List(e)n, a documentary that attempts to untangle the division and polarization that’s come to define American life. The film takes subjects with opposing views on hot-button topics — ranging from gun control and immigration to abortion — sits them down with one another, and invites them to speak their mind.
But more importantly, List(e)n asks both viewers and participants to abide by its title. The movie refrains from casting judgment or painting its speakers in a negative light. Instead, it recognizes that we all share a common humanity, and that personal perspectives — no matter how controversial — are born out of lived experiences and how we process them. In other words, the stories we tell ourselves.
“The objective is to have people, through storytelling, understand others,” Tafur says of the film’s mission statement. “When we really focus on our differences on the basis of gender, socioeconomic status, race, and sexual orientation… it gives people who have been impacted by their identities in a different way share, and for others who have never heard a story like that to be touched and have their eyes opened.”
List(e)n wound up having a transformative effect on both those in front of and behind the camera. By creating a formal, non-judgmental space for folks to make themselves heard, the movie managed the seemingly impossible task of making people diametrically opposed to one another not only find common ground, but gain a meaningful understanding of why those they perceive as “other” might feel the way that they do.
And that’s exactly why we’re partnering with the List(e)n team to host Listen Courageously – From Coast to Coast. We’ll gather (virtually!) with readers from our sister publications across the nation in Miami, Seattle, Portland, and Pittsburgh. The goal? To become more aware of our listening blocks, so that we can better engage in heart-centered conversations that lead to mutual respect and understanding.
Listen Courageously attendees will have the opportunity to watch a screening of the documentary themselves before the event proper. With the film in mind, participants will then get to dive deeper into their own narratives through a series of questions to ponder prior to next month’s workshop.
Without giving everything away about what Listen Courageously entails, Tafur promises an evening designed to shift what you thought was possible.
“It’s an opportunity for people to really — for the first time and in a very non-threatening way — stop and listen while not being engaged themselves in the dialogue,” she says. “It’s something we don’t know how to do as a society. We do not know how to listen. It takes practice and it’s hard work, but it’s nice to be able to do it through a screen when you’re not being recorded or you’re not in the hot seat.”
Sound like something you’re into? Be sure to join us for a powerful evening in May.