Ryan Lahne, Conference Committee
September 30, 2019
Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer, speaker, and peace activist living in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. After graduating from Middlebury College, he was ready to begin his adult life, but didn’t know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, in which everyone he met would be his guide.
In the year that followed, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered incredible kindness from strangers of all different kinds. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn’t know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face, and began to find that the answer might be in listening itself.
After his year-long walk across America, Andrew began telling the stories from his transformative journey. He co-produced a radio documentary about this project that was featured on "This American Life," and his book, Walking to Listen, goes deeper into the stories and explores the practice and philosophy of walking to listen.
Andrew now writes and speaks about the discipline of listening and its role in the work of reconciliation, transformational resistance, and peace-making at the personal and collective levels. He is an itinerant teacher, offering walks and workshops that train participants in the work of becoming a trustworthy listener. His work is a contribution to the collective project of learning how to be alive together with love, by listening—united by our diversity, empowered by sharing the unavoidable vulnerability of being human, and freed by opening up to ourselves and one another.
Livingtolisten.com is the online home for his work, and he lives in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.
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