What is Cortico and the Local Voices Network?
Cortico, a non-profit 501(c)(3) in cooperation with MIT’s Laboratory for Social Machines, seeks to foster constructive public conversation in communities and in the media to improve our understanding of one another. To this end, we’re developing a public conversation network called the Local Voices Network (LVN), designed to bring under-heard community voices, perspectives and stories to the center of a healthier public dialogue.
LVN combines in-person and digital listening to host, analyze and connect community conversations at scale. Launching in Wisconsin, New York, and Alabama in 2019 with ambitions to scale nationally, the Local Voices Network is designed around three core efforts:
- Facilitating in-person community dialogue that enables participants to listen, learn, and be heard
- Connecting facilitators and conversations digitally across boundaries
- Opening a new listening channel for journalists, leaders, and the community at large
Why is this work important?
Our media environment prioritizes national perspectives and our politics reinforce divisive tribalism. Local citizenries, however, share a lived community experience. And those local voices, be they from red counties or blue cities, go unheard in the current media environment, drowned out by hyperpartisan noise and toxic dialogue. Social media, designed to connect us, has also divided us into insular “tribes” hostile toward outside views and ripe for the spread of false news, hateful discourse, and extremism. We need to create a new civic space for local voices to be heard in civil, empathic public conversation that heals divisions from the inside of communities out.