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Determi ni ng a topi c: It’ s i mportant to know your
communi ty!

The dialogue should address an issue that isn’t going away. Informal
conversations have already begun, and the dialogue is the next step. Ask

• Are there any challenges your community is facing as it tries to be a more
inclusive space? What are some of these social issues/obstructs?
• What issues do you feel your community is ready to talk about?
• What issues do you feel your community is not ready to talk about?

Choosi ng your team

The best team is composed of diverse individuals who agree on the purpose
(and need) for the dialogue. Diversity promotes inclusion and promises that the
dialogue will reflect the community you seek to serve.

Consider the following:

Are you reaching out to people who reflect the diversity of
your community? Have you reached out to under-
represented minority groups and people with ideologies
that fall at different points on the spectrum?

Are there other initiatives (“third
spaces”) in your community? Do
you have a trusting relationship
with any of the current

Have you reached out to activists and
non-activists—those already known for
their views and others who display a
general interest in community building?

Do you and your friends share a common desire/vision
for starting a dialogue? Could you imagine yourself
working with any of your friends in this initiative?

Do you all believe in the need for a
dialogue on a particular issue?


Composi ti on and Structure of Your Team

The organizing team can start as small as two peopl e
and grow as you take on additional responsibilities.

We started off with a Logistics Guy and a Content Girl
and branched out to be what we are now!

The group grows and retracts, depending on the need of
the dialogue. Set your goals, distribute responsibilities,
and trust each other in the shared vision!

Here are a few roles/items to think about!
Logistics. Think about:
Location. Accessible via public transportation.
Space. Accommodate at least 100 people (seated) and
avoid panel setting! Convos are better with eye contact!
Time. At least 2.5 hours for the discussion with thirty
minutes on either end for set up and cleaning.
Content. Manage the:
Topic selection. List of potential topics (the
pros/cons of everything!).
Moderator selection. Meet with potential
moderators and people interested in moderating
the dialogue or volunteering in content creation.
Timeline. Create a timeline for all those google
hangouts/meetings and send out an update so
everyone is on one page!

Outreach. Promote through:
Flyer. Contact a local artist/designer for the dialogue flyer.
Social media. Social media venues used to advertise the
dialogue, creation of the FB page, etc.
Listservs and organizations. List of contacts, listservs, and
American Muslim and supporting organizations to promote
the initiative and upcoming dialogue.

Funding. Take care of the money by:
Cost. Determine the costs for each dialogue and project
the yearly goal.
Fund-raising. Primary contact/administrator for all
fundraising sites (e.g., LaunchGood).
Distribution. Manage the donations during the event and
payments (as well as additional costs as expenses grow).

Those Amazi ng Moderators!
The moderators work with the Content person and take charge
of the finer details such as:

Topic. What aspect of the general theme should the dialogue
Format. How should the dialogue be structured (big/small
groups)? Who should moderate the small discussion groups?
Questions. Devise the questions for the discussion.

Choosi ng the Moderators

The moderators change for each dialogue. We suggest (2) main moderators who have prior experience with
discussion groups and are comfortable with ideas/ideologies different than their own. They may or may not have
topical knowledge for the particular dialogue but are open to sharing their personal experiences related to the topic.

A few things we think about when selecting our moderators:
• Do you know the person personally or professionally? Is he/she part of your spiritual group (or other
religious network)?
• Have you ever seen this person moderate (or interact in a discussion group) before? Was he/she comfortable
with other people’s opinions and different views? How did he/she handle the uncomfortable situations?
• Once again, diversity is important. Select moderator pairs who reflect your community’s genders, racial and
ethnic diversity, etc.

A sweet suggestion: Go out to lunch or coffee with these folks before you select them as moderators! Get to know
them (their personalities and opinions) because they will be a major part of your team!


Structure of the Di al ogue

The structure should promote a conversation – not a
panel discussion. A few tips and thoughts!

Avoid panelists and the “stage” layout. There is no
authoritative figure in the room so avoid any visual
creating that impression.

Have moderators (large and small groups) share their
personal stories. This creates the atmosphere of
acceptable vulnerability and allows moderators to share
without taking on an authoritative role.

Use a model that allows for intimate discussions. We
suggest a big group-small group model. The big group
helps participants understand the point of the dialogue
and the small group allows participants to share in a more
intimate setting.

Have a “concluding” activity. An “end” activity helps the
participants reach a point of closure after sharing such
intimate and personal stories.

Creati ng a “ Saf e” Atmosphere

Vulnerability requires trust – that the listener will be
compassionate and adhere to the principle of non-attribution. We
start each dialogue with Community Ground Rules. Feel free to
add to the list!

Non-attribution. Respect your community members by not
revealing (directly or indirectly) the individual’s identity associated
with a specific story.

These are experiences, not lectures. Respect the individual’s
experience—he or she has felt a certain way – even though you may
not agree with the other’s theology.

Step up, step back. Please contribute! Also recognize there may be
others who have not spoken and step back to allow others to
contribute to the conversation.

This is not a debate. Do not try to solve another individual’s
problems. Add your experience to the stories being shared to
contribute to an organic conversation.