Two men on mission to restore civility to conversation

Posted at 5:02 AM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-15 15:19:11-04

Two Valley men are on a mission to bring back civility to conversation. 

"We've lost the ability to connect with each other, to be empathetic and compassionate in our listening," said John Little, who, with partner Matt Lehrman, founded Social Prosperity Partners. 

The consulting firm aims to help cities, school boards and private organizations plan and carry out meetings with the public on contentious topics. 

"We think that there is so much creative wealth in a community that if you give people the opportunity to participate, we can come to answers that are beyond what any one of us could come up with on our own," Lehrman told ABC15. 

The three pillars of their method? Slow down the process, open up and allow trust to develop. 

Little, formerly Scottsdale's city manager, said he knows firsthand how municipalities don't always have all the stakeholders included in an important conversation. For example, he said when residents are concerned about drug treatment facilities opening up in their community, they never hear from the people who recovered through them. 

Little said their mission is to keep a "vital democratic process" intact and "find those areas of common ground and shared values that are important to all of us."