Experiencing and understanding the benefits of listening — simply listening — might just make this year’s holiday dinner conversations more meaningful and memorable. Boise State’s “Idaho Listens” project has been promoting listening all around Idaho.
Idaho Listens offers opportunities for diverse speakers to share their stories and perspectives with audience members who agree to remain silent. Courage and integrity are crucial for both speakers and listeners, as the goal is not to seek agreement, but to foster attentive and respectful dialogue even if values and viewpoints may not align.
“We can disagree with each other, learn from each other – even in that disagreement – and try to move forward and develop meaningful responses. It is fundamentally the work of higher education to bring people together in this way,” said Dr. Marlene Tromp, president of Boise State University.
Sponsored by local philanthropist Greg Carr and in partnership with Idaho Public Television and Boise State’s Institute for Advancing American Values, Idaho Listens has hosted four 90-minute events so far, in Boise (2022), Idaho Falls (spring 2023), in Coeur d’Alene in October and on campus with students earlier this month. The Coeur d’Alene event drew 240 people who heard speakers from ranching, hospitality, construction, education and business. It was featured in a front-page newspaper article the next morning in the Coeur d’Alene Press. More than 17,000 people have viewed the three events through Idaho Public Television or recordings posted online.
A video recap of the Coeur d’Alene event is available on the university’s YouTube channel.
Idahoans at each of the events have shared a range of inspiring and moving personal stories, with narratives covering a wide spectrum of experiences, including: overcoming addiction, coping with abuse, finding solace in the great outdoors of Idaho, enduring the scorching sun while working in a hay field, and the powerful influence of music in uniting people.
Read more about Idaho Listens in a special feature for Boise State Magazine written by Bill Manny, executive producer at Idaho Public Television.