Local Voices Network (LVN) operates on the philosophy that the community is the expert of the community. That’s why much of our work is powered by local volunteer facilitators like Phil Haslanger, who dedicate their time and expertise to gathering conversations about important issues in their own communities. Phil has been with LVN since its early days and was an active user of our Hearth. He is a wonderful example of how our volunteers leverage the LVN model to more intentionally engage with their own communities, and help us embed our work more deeply in those places.
Here’s more about Phil and his experience with LVN.
What is a value that has shaped who you are, and how it brought you to LVN?
Curiosity and wonder about the world and the people in it. I love the chance to get to know people and to hear their stories. LVN provides a great place for that to happen. There is actually a second value that brought me to this — listening to each other across the things that can often divide us.
How did you get involved with Local Voices Network?
I have known Kathy Cramer — the driving force behind LVN’s launch in Madison — for a while, so when she told me about this in its formative stages, I was really interested. I went to one of the original public meetings and learned a bit about how would work and thought that this was something I could do and would enjoy doing.
What is a community that has shaped who you are today?
Oh, there are so many. For 34 years, I was a journalist in Madison, so certainly the newsroom community shaped me a lot, especially in terms of meeting people from many places and listening to them. More recently, I was a pastor at a United Church of Christ congregation for a decade, so the spirit of caring for one another, listening through disagreements and always trying to widen the circle has a lot to do with who I am today.
What is a sound that you love? What about one that you hate?
I love the sound of rain (and so many other sounds). I hate the sound of leaf blowers.
What are your favorite/least favorite words?
My favorite is, “Yeah, but I could be wrong.” Least favorites are any phrases used to degrade someone’s identity.
What do you think are the most important practices for a facilitator in LVN conversations?
Find ways to make personal connections with the participants early on, then guide the conversation without becoming part of it, particularly by asserting your own views. Listen, reflect, guide.
What’s one of your favorite LVN conversations or/highlights and why?
I had a chance to facilitate a conversation with a group of young professionals who were Muslims. Their stories, their concerns about their community and the wider community were wonderful to hear and to be able to share.
Which reality show would you have the highest likelihood of winning?
Almost none of them since I never watch them and have no idea what I would have to do 🙂
What is one piece of media (newspaper, magazine, podcast, etc.) that you would recommend to others?
I love listening to the podcasts of Fresh Air from NPR. Host Terry Gross has fascinating conversations with such a wide range of guests that I learn a lot about the people and issues, whether about politics, culture, race or spirituality.