Mission-Driven Enterprise Promises Common Ground for Common Good

Difficult conversations, well facilitated, can lead to a better understanding of each other as human beings.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center presents Stowe on the Go: a program that facilitates difficult conversations using historical objects to nurture common ground for common good.

In a divisive, increasingly polarized world, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is an educational, social justice museum ready to help communities recognize and appreciate where they are united.

Stowe on the Go, a new social enterprise, offers facilitated learning experiences to various groups to help hone deep listening and constructive conversational skills that lead to better understanding of each other. We use museum collection items to ground each conversation in historical context and provide a springboard for discussion that helps lead to common ground. 

Our approach helps participants practice skills for engaging in difficult conversations with open minds and respect for difference. A Stowe on the Go experience leads to more cohesive groups who better understand each other. Our goal is for each person to say: “I will think about what you just said.”

Topics include: 

  • Words Matter:  Exploring how our vocabulary and ways of speaking affect others 
  • Common Ground for Common Good: Fostering unity out of division  
  • Freedom of Expression: Encouraging responsible civic engagement 
  • Literary Activism: Using words to make positive change


The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center leans into difficult and potentially transformative conversations. For more than a decade we have built our reputation and cultivated our skills for award-winning, innovative programing that creates brave space for addressing with diverse voices topics that were a concern for Stowe in the 19th century and persist in the 21st.

Our expertise is nurturing shared space where people are open to listening deeply to many perspectives and helping all discover common ground. We use principles of respect and integrity to help participants understand the nuances and humanity of differing perspectives. We use strategies that prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and foremost, justice.

What differentiates Stowe on the Go from other DEI and team-building programs is how we use history to ground our topics.

In the 19th century, when women had little power and no vote, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a novel that helped galvanize the movement to end slavery. Stowe’s sentimental anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin became an international bestseller, second only to the Bible in sales. Stowe cultivated her ability to change hearts and minds through discussion and civic engagement. In social circles that did not shy away from dissent, Stowe learned that words matter, commonalities among humans evoke empathy, and speaking up is imperative.

The issues Stowe wrote to protest in the 19th century persist today—dehumanization and hate-mongering in particular are leading us to increasing polarization. At the Stowe Center we ground all programming with tangible historical artifacts and compelling storytelling to provide the foundation for the difficult discussions we pursue together.


We are proud participants in the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s (HFPG) Social Enterprise Accelerator, and part of a cohort referred to as the Entrepreneurial Eight. Using the proven-successful method of teaching someone how to fish instead of just handing over the fish, HFPG has paired each of eight nonprofit groups with a business consultant from No Margin, No Mission to help us each launch a mission-driven enterprise that will help increase our bottom line while also spreading our mission.

After fourteen weeks of business plan preparation, we have announced our venture.

We will raise $100K in start-up funds, which will cover our first full year of operations including hiring a Sales and Marketing professional, implementing branding and marketing plans, and purchasing needed technology to facilitate Stowe on the Go experiences virtually.

For the next fourteen months we will have the continuing consultation from No Margin, No Mission to make our idea a reality.


Stowe on the Go will not only extend our mission beyond our physical space, it will help fund our ongoing, mission-driven work, to explore social justice and literary activism through Stowe’s legacy. It is our vision to nurture a better world, one conversation at a time.

For more information, please contact Executive Director Karen Fisk, kfisk@stowe.org.

PLEASE NOTE: Stowe on the Go is a mission-driven social enterprise intended to be self-sustaining.

Karen Fisk is Executive Director of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Our vision is a world in which engagement leads to empathy, empowerment, and change for good.