Remember when Facebook first came out with emoji reactions? Finally, we could move past the bland 'like' into a new world of responses. We could express surprise...or sadness...or anger!
Lately, that angry face seems to be cropping up everywhere.
A shared video of a senator in the opposing party--hate it!
A shared article about a policy you don't agree with--hate it!
Trolling comments on posts--hate, hate, HATE them all!
There's a lot of anger floating around right now. No matter what your beliefs, indignation is only a click away. We could spend every waking moment sliding down the rabbit hole of disbelief and frustration.
But what we need to do is... p a u s e.
It seems like what we're missing in our media universe is a "HUH" emoji reaction.
I don't love it... I don't hate it... it just makes me go, "Huh."
This brings us to the Purple Living Room Project's origin story. My name is Jen and I'm a Kindergarten teacher. The day after the 2016 election, I drew this sketch...
"That's it!" I thought. "Let's start a political dialogue group called "Help Us Heal." We can all share our different perspectives and collectively say, 'Huh. That's interesting.'"
I called my mom, who always tells it like it is, and she of course said, "HUH...Love the idea, hate the name."
Back to the drawing board.
During that post-election week, it was hard to find anyone,
on either side,
who could speak dispassionately about where we find ourselves as a nation.
"THEY don't listen."
"THEY don't understand."
And I kept thinking, "What about WE?"
WE the PEOPLE.
What about US?
And who are THEY, anyway?
THEY are our neighbours.
THEY are our colleagues.
THEY are our family members.
And sometimes, THEY are even our friends.
What if we could dialogue with the "THEM" in our daily lives? What if we could meet with people we know and trust in our own living rooms to exchange ideas and look for solutions?
We could focus on one issue at a time and then take action by contacting congress together. We the people.
Within a few days, and after many conversations, "The Purple Living Room Project" became the working name for the group.
Now we just needed a logo.
Do you remember this from your Kindergarten days?...
The classic Venn Diagram helps students sort how objects are similar and different. This was the image that kept coming to my Early Childhood educator mind when talking about the project with others.
There could be thousands of points on the 'red' side or the 'blue' side, but there must be at least a few 'purple' points in the middle?!? Surely, we need to focus our attention as a nation on those areas of agreement where blue and red perspectives overlap.
And so here we are today...
The whole point of the Purple Living Room Project is to come together with people we know to listen to one another, look for common ground, take a small action together, and have a little fun in the process.
It's not about changing anyone's mind. It's not about proving how WE are right and THEY are wrong. It's about listening to one another and saying, "HUH."
And we need many voices to make this project work.
So, will you join us?
"Meet in the Middle"