Why host a political potluck?
Create more civil public discourse.
The goal of these conversations isn’t to argue, but to listen, learn and share your political beliefs and priorities with people from across the political spectrum.
Add your voice to our Voting Block coverage.
We’ll feature insights from your Political Potluck with other conversations from across the state through an interactive map on our website. Our newsrooms may also follow up with your group for stories. See our coverage so far at votingblocknj.com.
Make your priorities heard.
Newsrooms in the Voting Block will compile your insights into a people-powered report that we’ll deliver to the gubernatorial candidates before the election.
Get your questions answered.
Our reporters will look for answers to questions that arise in your Political Potluck conversation and provide more coverage on the issues raised by your group.
FIND A TIME AND PLACE
We suggest carving out at least two hours to make sure your guests have time to eat and dive into the conversation.
INVITE YOUR NEIGHBORS
Be sure to invite neighbors who might have different political views or values from you. This conversation is meant for people on all points of the political spectrum to have a respectful discussion. Twelve people or fewer is ideal to keep the conversation intimate.
SET THE MENU
You could go full-on potluck style and encourage your neighbors to bring their own dish, find a restaurant that can accommodate your group or order delivery.
Assign someone to act as the discussion leader and another to be a notetaker. The discussion leader helps move the conversation along, keeps time and makes sure all voices are included. The notetaker chronicles the conversation by taking photos and recording audio or video using a cellphone. The notetaker is responsible for sharing your conversation by completing the post-potluck report back.
Here are a few tips and guidelines to help discussion leaders facilitate the conversation:
Help the group identify areas of agreement and disagreement.
Make sure everyone has a chance to speak.
Don’t be afraid of silence. People need time to reflect and think.
Ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak.
Listen closely and ask follow-up questions to help participants get specific about their statements.
Manage conflict by summarizing statements and referring to ground rules (see next page).
Once everyone has arrived, have everyone get their food and settle in. The conversation leader can begin the discussion by asking the group to go around and introduce themselves, along with the following:
- How long have you been in the neighborhood?
- Where are you originally from?
- Include a fun icebreaker, such as: If you could live in the TV show of your choice, what show would you choose and why?
After introductions, the discussion leader can set the following core ground rules and ask the participants if there are others that they would like to add:
- Treat each other with respect.
- One person talks at a time. Please don’t cut people off.
- Speak for yourself and focus on your own experience. Don’t try to speak for a particular group or make general statements about others.
- Be conscious of time and make sure you give others the opportunity to speak.
Guiding your conversation
We’ve created the following five questions to guide your conversation. The discussion leader should pose the first question to begin, but feel free to explore other topics that come up naturally.
During the discussion, make sure the notetaker is documenting key points. You can take notes directly in our post-potluck report back form at votingblocknj.com/potluck.
What’s something you’d like the gubernatorial candidates to know about your community?
What issues should be at the top of the next governor’s agenda?
How has your attitude toward politics changed since November's presidential election, if at all?
What would most likely motivate you to go to the polls in November?
Do you discuss politics with people who think differently from you? Why or why not?
As the conversation winds down or approaches the two-hour mark, the discussion leader can wrap up the discussion by asking the group:
» What stood out to you most from the conversation?
Tell us about your conversation
Thank you for participating in a Political Potluck! We can’t wait to hear what you and your neighbors talked about.
Make your voice heard. Please share your conversation with Voting Block newsrooms by having your designated notetaker complete our post-potluck report back form.
We will read every submission and answer questions that come up. The information you share will inform our Voting Block coverage and be included in a people-powered report that we’ll deliver to the gubernatorial candidates.
Staying in touch
Did your conversation run long? Don’t let it stop there. Make plans for your next Political Potluck before you head home. You can invite the same folks to keep the conversation going or invite a new group neighbors.
Encourage your friends to host their own Political Potluck by posting photos and quotes from your conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Just use the hashtag #VotingBlockNJ.
Questions about hosting a Political Potluck? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about other Political Potlucks happening around the state and follow our ongoing electoral coverage on our website: votingblocknj.com.
Founding news partners include WNYC, WHYY, NJ Spotlight, The Record/USA Today Network, and WBGO.
Voting Block is coordinated by the Center for Cooperative Media, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, and New America Media.
Support for Voting Block is provided by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.