Tom Scott on Why Meaningful Conversation Matters


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By Rich Roll. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

At the root of our current political and cultural turmoil lies an unprecedented divisiveness. With all-or-nothing thinking fueled by tribalism, the result is a complete communication breakdown. And a predilection to convince rather than a willingness to listen and ultimately understand.

Unhealthy and isolating, it's leaving us lonelier and angrier than ever.

But more than anything, it's fracturing our humanity.

So what do we do?

Tom Scott says we need to talk about it.

A graduate of Brown University with a Masters of Divinity from Yale, Tom is the founder of The Nantucket Project – an intimate ideas festival in the vein of TED — that brings together incredible leaders across a wide range of disciplines to talk story, with an eye on creating a better world.

When the pandemic shuttered what would have been the 10th iteration of TNP, Tom decided to take his skills and curiosity on the road. Driven by a desire to engage with Americans first-hand, he enlisted his film crew on a slow route down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans, stopping in small towns daily to host get togethers with a wide variety of everyday people, chronicling difficult and at times painful discussions on politics, racism, and everything in between.

What he discovered might surprise you.

Returning for his second appearance on the podcast (catch RRP #360 if you missed it), today’s exchange with Tom begins with an honest acknowledgment of where culture currently sits. We discuss our fears and hopes for the future. And our shared concerns about the effects of quarantine on our kids and youth across the world.

We shift gears to discuss The Neighborhood Project, an intentional conversation platform Tom and his team are creating for people to digitally gather, intentionally connect and share experience.

Weaving clips into the edit lifted from his adventure down the Mississippi, Tom relates his effort to cultivate tactile, analog understanding between people who disagree. The wins. The losses. The glimmers of hope. And the challenges that remain.

All told, Tom paints the picture of an imperfect America. But one that looks quite different from the highlight reel delivered by our respective social media feeds.

Boots on the ground isn't twitter. And meaningful conversation matters. Therein lies promise.

As someone I have known since 7th grade, my friendship with Tom runs deep. This conversation further cemented my admiration for this human.

The visually inclined can watch our exchange on YouTube. And as always, the podcast streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

My aspiration is that you take this one on with a full heart and an open mind -- then find a way to better connect with your neighbor.

Peace + Plants,

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Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering and show notes; Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis for video, editing and graphics; portraits by Davy Greenberg; and theme music by Ana Leimma.

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