Conversation is an art that is slowly fading from our world of instant messaging and cryptic texting. Conversation at its best:

  • Is personal, meaningful, and courageous
  • Is an exchange of ideas and thoughts
  • Allows deeper understanding and sets the foundation for the implementation of thoughts and ideas

The Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) in Pennsylvania has implemented “Morning Conversations,” a one-hour opportunity to “converse” about a specific Bridges construct and strategy.

More than 1,200 people in the Bucks County region have been trained in Bridges Out of Poverty. Bridges Out of Poverty training takes a comprehensive approach to understanding the dynamics that cause and maintain poverty.

One of the BCOC’s strategic priorities is to expand partnerships and transform Bucks County into a “Bridges community.” People and organizations use Bridges to develop programs and strategies that improve:

  • Relationships at the individual level
  • Outcomes at the organizational levelbop-coffee-cup
  • Systems at the community level

In part, Bridges helps:

  • Prevent poverty
  • Alleviate suffering
  • Support people in transition
  • Eliminate poverty

To date, two Morning Conversations have been held, one at the BCOC office in Doylestown and one at Penn Foundation in Upper Bucks. The topic was “mental models.”

What are our “internal pictures” of how the world works? How can we use mental models in one-on-one settings to help people gain understanding, develop a future story, practice choice, and enjoy the power of being problem solvers? For dialogue to occur, we must suspend our mental models and be open to exploring other mental models that are different than ours.

The conversations were insightful. Folks were engaged and eager to practice mental models and consider how mental models can be used in their daily work. I left each conversation energized by the colloquy.

I look forward to sitting with you at the table! bucks-co-opportunity-council

Tammy B. Schoonover, ACSW, LSW, is director of community services with the Bucks County Opportunity Council. Tammy was originally certified as a Bridges trainer in 2007 and in 2013 achieved lifetime trainer certification.