July 2018
Dialogue with a purpose.

My Neighbor's Voice is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which facilitates hospitable gatherings where neighbors near and far share a simple meal and listen to each other's stories and perspectives. In order to achieve the richest experience, the model is designed to welcome community members with a broad spectrum of viewpoints.
Hosting is a wonderful way to support the mission of My Neighbor's Voice:
to create safer, stronger, more welcoming communities for everyone. It's fun and memorable!
As a host, you will be welcoming 8-10 guests into your home to share ideas, stories, and a simple meal together. You will work with a certified MNV moderator to provide a safe space for listening and learning.
There are three ways to host:
1) Invitational Hosting: we can provide a MNV invitation for you to use to invite 8-10 guests to your home, and we assign a moderator to come and facilitate the evening.
2) Partnered Hosting: If you have some folks you would like to invite, but not enough for a gathering of 8-10 guests, we can provide the moderator as well as additional guests to fill the table.
3) Hospitality Hosting: If you would just like to offer your hospitality and home and have us provide all the guests, we can do that, too.
To sign up for hosting, go to myneighborsvoice.org and fill out the application form. Mary Anne or Victoria will respond with information and materials and answer any questions you may have.
Moderator Training
What to Expect at My Neighbor's Voice
After you sign up to participate , your name will be given to a volunteer host who will contact you and check on any food allergies and give you directions to his or her home, as well as the host’s contact information.
On the evening of the event, you will be warmly greeted and given a name tag. Once all the guests arrive, you will be informed by your host as to the simple supper menu and how to serve your plate and then have a seat at the table.
Once everyone is seated, a certified My Neighbor’s Voice moderator then formally starts the evening using the same script for every event. No cell phones are allowed. We begin with introductions. These last about 2-3 three minutes each. After everyone has introduced themselves, the moderator then produces the deck of My Neighbor’s Voice questions and answers the first question. The questions are about our community and civic life together, and they’re divided into four categories or rounds. You will have about 2 and ½ minutes to answer your question. Once you’ve given your answer, you pass the deck to the next person and he or she answers the next question, and so on. No one at any time may ask a question or make any response to someone else’s question. We just get to listen. At the end of the third round, there’s a brief break and coffee, tea, and dessert are served. After the final round of questions, for the last 10-15 minutes of the event, the moderator then opens to table up to everyone. That’s when folks can ask questions, clarify a previous answer, and make comments. You will be asked to fill out a survey about your experiences which you may do at the end, take home, or fill out online. 
If you have any questions, please contact us at myneighborsvoice@gmail.com or visit our website: www.myneighborsvoice.org

From Board Member Kristen Marakoff
Saying Nothing Instead of Saying No
I don’t like admitting it, but my initial reaction to most exchanges, whether it be with a boss, best friend, colleague, or partner, and whether it’s about something as abstract as the definition of reality or something as mundane as a clothing suggestion, is some iteration of the word “no.”
I don’t like to admit to this knee-jerk response because it doesn’t fit the persona I so desperately want to inhabit: the enlightened vegan nouveau-hippie whose first response is to hear , not to shut down. But besides not fitting my image, saying “no” reflexively is no longer serving me; I’ve gotten into too many heated debates in restaurants, harbored too much poisonous resentment in my chest, cut off too many friends when we reached an impasse. I don’t want to carry any more anger or suffer any more loss because I am not willing to validate the lived experiences of my fellow humans.
I think I respond antagonistically to the world because there was a time when saying “no” did serve me, as it serves many of us. “No” is often one our first words as babies, and saying it is vital to establishing our individuality, our separation from the body that created us. As we grow up we say “no” to set boundaries with others, to make sure that our needs are not trampled or forgotten, and sometimes just to have something to say in a world terrified of silence.
In the academic sphere debating differences in ideas, challenging another scholar, and adopting a critical viewpoint of our environment isn’t just permitted, but actively encouraged. My own reflex to say “no” stems, I believe, from my scholarly activist work, which was influenced largely by a philosophical system literally called “the pedagogy of refusal.”
I am not alone, certainly, in the experience of using “no” as a vital act of self-creation, self-preservation, and even consciousness-raising. There is certainly a time and a place for that work, and for that word. But that place, I am learning, is not with your neighbors. Or your friends. Or your family. Even when you disagree with your neighbors, even when you disagree with the whole of your being, there is no benefit in shutting down, in refusing to hear what the humans in front of you are trying to say. The only response that builds bridges instead of walls is communion.
This is the vital work of My Neighbor’s Voice, and it is the reason I attended my first event. And the reason I attended my second event. And then the reason I joined the Board of Directors. Listening without response, sitting in the discomfort and then enlightenment of silence, and validating the reality of your neighbor: all are reestablished as integral parts of the communal experience in a My Neighbor’s Voice event, and participating has made it easier for me to lay down my weapons in all communicative aspects of my life, and to hear my loved ones with a depth that just isn’t possible when you are listening to respond instead of to hear.
Incidentally, we’ve discovered, my neighbors and I, that we have more in common than we ever realized while we were debating or fighting or saying “no” to one another. That’s the gift of sitting down at the table. I hope you’ll sit with us.
Our Board member: Kristen Marakoff
Thank you to all who are supporting our work and vision; who trust and believe in our ability to discern a gracious and welcoming path to building stronger and resilient communities:
Joan Pittman
James H. Chance
Bob Chance
Betty L. Smith
Nancy Williams
Roxanne Vatalaro
Kelly Chance
Paul Gaeto
Michelle Shain
Steven Christianson
Lynn Coleman
Thomas Nicoll
Lyndon Vestal
John Featherby
Sharon Campbell
Peggy Larson
Tom Kent
Sam Lyons
Deb Richardson-Moore
Kathy Tomashitis
Ross McClain
Aneesh Borah
JoAnn Borovicka
Michael Brodeur
Luci Fernandez

Join other brave souls in supporting this good work!

My Neighbor's Voice is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
We Want To Hear Your Voice!