Shades of Purple: Dialogue across difference

We’re coordinating a series of community events to spur community engagement, model civil dialogue, and amplify moderate voices.

Shades of Purple: Dialogue across difference

Shades of Purple: Dialogue across difference in greater Minnesota is a conversation program led by Project Optimist. We’re coordinating a series of community events that bring greater Minnesotans together to discuss controversial topics.

The goal is to spur community engagement, model civil dialogue, and amplify moderate voices. We know that a lot of nuance around important issues gets lost in the noise.

The Shades of Purple events will feed into a podcast series and written stories published by Project Optimist. The stories will share insights from the events that the rest of Minnesota (and the world!) can learn from.

Upcoming dialogue events

Biophilia Celebration

Help us celebrate our Biophilia series! We're hosting a party on Sunday, July 28 at Riverside Park in St. Cloud.

The free event will kick off with forest bathing at 10 a.m. Forest bathing is the practice of immersing oneself in nature, without digital devices. Registration is required for forest bathing.

The open house will start at noon, and will include food, music, and fun! Everyone is welcome to attend. Visit the link below for more information and to register for forest bathing.

Project Optimist’s Biophilia Celebration
Join us for a nature-filled event at Project Optimist’s Biophilia Celebration, connecting with the beauty of the natural world!

Wildfire dialogue

Project Optimist has partnered with Friends of the Finland Community to host a free, moderation conversation about managing wildfires on Wednesday, August 21 from 5-7 p.m. at the Finland Community Center. Snacks will be provided. Registration is required.

Project Optimist’s Wildfire Dialogue
Join Project Optimist and Friends of the Finland Community for a moderated conversation about the impacts of wildfire in Northern Minnesota.

Please note this event was initially supposed to take place in June, but was moved after the region experienced flooding.

Social isolation dialogues

In fall 2024, we'll partner with universities and colleges for a series of conversations on social isolation, belonging, and connection among young adults.

Where will other events take place?

The dialogues will take place in person and virtually in Minnesota’s small cities and rural areas. We started in St. Cloud where we partnered with the Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization and the Stearns History Museum for a dialogue about belonging. We are partnering with service groups, libraries, media nonprofits, and other local organizations.

What will happen at the events?

At the heart of each gathering is a moderated conversation in which people share the personal experiences that shape their views. Participants will be asked to agree to ground rules and show respect for others.

The events will include food whenever possible and a simple, collaborative art project.

The events will borrow from models used by Essential Partners and Spaceship Media, two organizations with experience leading conversations on controversial topics. Locals will help determine conversation topics during the preparation process.

What happens after the events?

Project Optimist will ask participants how they want to continue their conversations and will plan future events accordingly. We’ll survey attendees immediately after the gathering and a few months later to gauge if the dialogues have a lasting impact.

Podcast producers with Project Optimist will follow up with participants to gather highlights and reflections on the process. They will create journalism to reach a broader audience and convey wisdom gleaned from the events.

How can you help?

  1. Become a named sponsor of the event series or podcast.
  2. Become a volunteer moderator for these important conversations. We’ll pay for your training and any travel costs.
  3. Become a partner to help plan and shape these events.

Contact Nora if you would like to get involved: 320-247-5899 or