November 15, 2023
On November 14th 2023, a diverse group of Northern Virginians gathered at the Community Foundation’s events space, the Penthouse at Three Flint Hill. A week prior, Virginians, Mississippians, New Jerseyans, Pennsylvanians, and a myriad of other Americans had cast votes, and it was in that context of voting, elections, and the bipolarization of America that inspired Mónica Guzmán to write I Never Thought of it That Way.

Mónica shares in her book that both of her parents voted for Trump in 2016, and she voted for Clinton. As a family, they had to figure out how to talk about their fears and worries by engaging productively. Community Foundation President and CEO Eileen Ellsworth mentioned that her parents, who were born in 1910 and 1915, did not discuss with each other who they voted for, even though they voted in every primary and every general election— which in Virginia, are every November.

The Elevate NOVA Book Circle was launched in 2023, inspired by a similar book circle held by the Delaware Community Foundation. More than 400 community members joined us to read the book and discuss Mónica’s thoughtful process for how to engage in deeper listening and curiosity to bridge gaps in understanding, helping to promote community resilience.

In our work to build Social Trust and Civil Healing the Community Foundation has joined a large and growing grassroots movement to rebuild social trust across the United States, each individual having a role to play in the civic healing of our country. Mónica made two points that resonated with those in the room and online. When asked by an audience member about how and when people should engage in a courageous conversation, she said that “If you think you know something, you won’t ask,” and that “Many of our conflicts are over the question ‘do I matter?’ Perhaps one way we can build better community resilience is by reminding those around us that they matter."

We’re proud to have hosted this impactful conversation. To keep up to date on Elevate NOVA initiatives, visit our website and sign up here.