One of TPF's initiatives, Aspirations to Actions (A2A), provides space for the first step in building trust-building connective tissue. Under the umbrella of A2A are several sub-initiatives, including Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, A Walk To Respect (AWTR).

AWTR is a one-act play written by The Patterson Foundation's Beth Duda and features spoken word poetry from the illustrious Cedric Hameed.

Recently, 216 individuals viewed the full recording that Bill Wagy created. TPF then hosted a virtual live-discussion panel facilitated by Ben Tollefson. It featured actors Michael Krebs as Abraham Lincoln, Joel PE King as Frederick Douglass, Cedric Hameed as narrator and original spoken word poet, and playwright Beth Duda. They discussed their reflections on the creation of the piece and how it can be applicable in our lives today. There were over 70+ individuals in attendance who helped to spur the robust discussion by asking insightful questions.

TPF's Stacy Sternberg posted a blog that wove words into the threads of a unique tapestry highlighting the humanity of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.

A week after the live panel discussion, TPF kicked off a month-long opportunity to continue the conversation. With Cedric facilitating the discussions centered on participants' own "walks to respect." A portal into the world of possibilities was opened. Using Harwood techniques, the groups used Lincoln and Douglass as inspiration to connect and explore ways to build trust, find shared aspirations, and unlock new perspectives.

It was also an opportunity to create a brave space.

Launched TPF Fellow John Ferguson loved to describe community conversations as providing a brave space for participants. He reasoned that we could never truly provide a safe space for people to discuss their ideas. Someone can always disagree or have pushback. But what we can provide is a place where people feel courageous enough to bring forth their ideas. The conversation groups offer the chance to have potentially difficult conversations in a place where folks can feel valued and heard—a space where folks can bravely disagree without being disagreeable.

Using AWTR as our guide, the first gathering centered around the idea of respect. How do we feel when we are respected? What about when we are disrespected? What environment is needed to begin sowing the seeds of respect? These questions were addressed through participants' own lens and current situations.

Answers are not necessarily the destination of each conversation. Rather, the journey to shared aspirations finds itself centered more around new questions we might discover.

During our gathering, I pondered: What more can we do to offer more brave and respectful forums? The answer I came to was simply to do the next right thing. Much like Lincoln and Douglass did, they found a way to cut through the external noise to do the right next thing. In doing this, we have the chance to experience a brave new respect for ourselves, our communities, and the world.

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