Listen First in Charlottesville:
Writing a New Story for America



Regardless of your political views, race, or religion, the scenes of fists flying and bloodied faces in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017 were deeply disturbing. This kind of personal hatred and violence is a disgrace to the United States of America and not what has made ours the most successful country on Earth. This internal scourge on our nation threatens the future of the United States. A healthy and vibrant society cannot survive amidst such attacks on the humanity of our fellow Americans. 

Our goal with this event is to write the first chapter of a new story for America, one of restoring humanity and civility to our conversations and our protests. To begin restoring relationships, building bridges, and mending the frayed fabric of society by teaching, practicing, and modeling Listen First in Charlottesvillewhere the collapse of civility in America was tragically put into stark relief. 


Listen First ProjectListen First Coalition, national and local leaders 


1. An inspirational and educational message by Listen First Project Founder Pearce Godwin (Teach)

  1. The Listen First mission to rebuild civil discourse, encourage conversations towards increased respect and understanding, inspire hope and behavior change one Listen First Pledge and Conversation at a time.

  2. The Listen First Pledge

  3. The Listen First Conversation Guidelines

2. Listen First Conversations among all attendees (Practice)

  1. All individuals in attendance pick one of several topics on which to have a Listen First Conversation with one or two people they don't know
  2. Each person indicate their topic of interest by holding up the number corresponding to that topic
  3. Three 15-minute rounds of Listen First Conversations amongst the crowd
  4. A few participants will share their experience from the stage

    3. Listen First Conversations among local and national leaders to model civility and inspire change (Model)

    Host: Pearce Godwin - Founder, Listen First Project

    Christian Picciolini - Co-founder, Life after Hate

    Alicia Garza - Co-founder, Black Lives Matter

    Krista Tippett - Host, On Being & Curator, Civil Conversations Project

    Dr. Brian Williams - Dallas trauma surgeon who treated slain police officers

    Rev. F. Willis Johnson - Pastor and Director of Center for Social Empowerment in Ferguson, Missouri

    Matt Kibbe - President, Free the People & Author, A Tea Party Manifesto and A Libertarian Manifesto

    Dr. Wes Bellamy - Charlottesville Vice-Mayor

    Kathy Galvin - Charlottesville City Council Member

    Allen Groves - Dean of Students, University of Virginia

    Sarah Kenny - President, UVA Student Council

    Mike Reingold - Editor-in-Chief, The Cavalier Daily

    Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer - Executive Director, National Institute for Civil Discourse

    David Nevins - President, Bridge Alliance

    Sandy Heierbacher - Founding Director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation

    Liz Joyner - Executive Director, Village Square

    David Blankenhorn - President, Better Angels

    Hawk Newsome - President, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, spoke at a pro-Trump rally that he was protesting

    Jaymee Copenhaver - University of Virginia '17 & Writer, AllSides

    4. Conclusion by Pearce Godwin

    1. Encourage the spread of the Listen First movement into relationships, local communities, and social networks to rebuild civil discourse in America
    2. Invite Charlottesville citizens and UVA students to join the new Listen First chapters in the community and on campus
    3. Encourage attendees to continue holding Listen First Conversations in their communities in the form of Living Room Conversations, Jefferson Dinners, Free Listening on the street, or Text, Talk, Revive Civility
    4. Invite attendees to remain at the venue to continue Listen First Conversations and speak with leaders

    When & Where

    April 21, 2018

    Sprint Pavilion in Charlottesville, Virginia

    Event Partners

    Event Support

    Listen First in Charlottesville Donations