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The Psychology of Polarization And How We Can Overcome Our Prejudices

The polar vortex may have retreated for the winter months ago, but the political polarization within the United States certainly has not. Just as meteorologists provide scientific explanations for our frozen toes, social scientists may have some explanations for our frozen political discourse. America’s political polarization has already been discussed at length. Some blame idiosyncrasies of our system, included closed primaries, money in politics, and the loss of political party ‘middlemen’ for helping elect the most polarized Congress “since the end of the Reconstruction.” While these explanations are not wholly inaccurate, the Law of Parsimony states that simpler explanations are more likely to be correct than complicated ones.

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An Antidote to Divisiveness and Gridlock: Coffee Party USA and Local Communities

Sit down with each other face to face. Keep listening. Be heard. Find common ground. Build a new story. Are we avoiding real conversation, or perhaps yelling at each other from inside our bubbles and lenses?  Limiting ourselves to winning or losing in the political arena? Members of a body politic but paralyzed and cut off from one another? Fearful of the escalating worldwide change and of the breakdown of our social fabric, or cynical about self-government and the future, or despairing of resisting and attacking and being attacked, or hoping somebody does something? We usually realize that our futures are entwined, we affect each other, we can help each other, we have worsening problems that can be solved only by working together, and as humans we have similar needs and hopes.

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Convene, Convey, Converge: Ten Years of Bringing Unlikely Allies Together

In April 2009, Convergence Center for Policy Resolution was founded to address a missing capacity in Washington. Convergence created an opportunity for people who disagree on major issues but wanted to solve problems to sit down, build relationships, and work together. As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we now have a track record that marks our place among bridge building organizations. In recognition of this important milestone, we share some lessons learned that could inform others engaged in similar work. Our signature effort involved educational practitioners, advocates, and experts who joined forces to transform K-12 education in the United States. To share lessons learned when unlikely allies work together, we published a case study earlier this year entitled, “Reimaging Education: How Unlikely Allies are Transforming Education for the Twenty-First Century.” It explains how our methodology can lead to a more collaborative way of addressing issues of national consequence.

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