Presented by The Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

The views expressed in blog posts are strictly those of the author and do not represent the views of the Bridge Alliance or its affiliates.

How the COVID-19 Response Nearly Tore My Family Apart

Posted by Free the People on August 27, 2020

By Logan Albright, Head Writer and Sound Engineer at Free the People. Reposted from: 

In their eagerness to “do something” and appear to be taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, politicians, pundits, and ordinary citizens alike have stubbornly refused to admit to any costs or tradeoffs resulting from the government’s policy response to the virus. As all thinking people know, every policy has a downside, and sensible governing should involve weighing those downsides carefully against any potential or actual benefits. But in the case of lockdowns, we’re expected to believe that if everyone will just do as they’re told, everything will be fine, and that there’s no other option besides that which has been aggressively pursued by mayors and governors across the nation.

But these downsides do exist, and they can be extremely serious, as I recently learned through personal experience.

Recognizing the limits of anecdotes, I’d nevertheless like to share a story from my own life to illustrate a few of the ways in which sweeping, reflexive lockdowns can negatively impact real people.

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They’re Back!

Posted by Jeremy Garson on August 20, 2020

When COVID-19 upended the world in late March and sent America into lockdown, we asked ourselves how we could best serve our members and supporters during these tumultuous times. We decided that the best course of action was to focus on informing our supporters of the various coronavirus-related resources being produced by Bridge Alliance members.

To do this, we turned “The Weekly Update” into “The Daily Resource” so that Bridge Alliance supporters would have access to new resources and information on a timely basis. We also created the COVID-19 Resource Packet (now the Crisis Recovery Guide) so that supporters could find the resources they needed to learn about the novel coronavirus, take advantage of the CARES Act, adjust their family/work/school life, continue to strengthen democracy, etc.

Additionally, we ramped up our efforts to encourage diversity in the healthy self-governance movement. Those efforts included a labor and time-intensive report on diversity in the movement, which examined diversity among Bridge Alliance member leaders and identified areas for growth.

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To Stop Coronavirus, We Must Set Aside Partisanship. Here's How We Can Do It.

Posted by Common Ground Committee on March 24, 2020

By Erik Olsen, Co-Founder, CFO, Board Chair and Bruce Bond Co-Founder, CEO, Board Chair. Reposted from: Originally Posted on:

This USA Today piece by CGC Co-Founders Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen calls for citizens and politicians to stop using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to push partisan politics and cites cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians as an example we can follow. Three of the Common Grounder Attributes are used to show how we can put our differences aside.

We need to put political views on the back burner and focus on doing what is necessary to help ourselves and others make it through this pandemic

Something extraordinary happened in the Middle East. In the wake of this global pandemic, Palestinians and Israelis put aside their differences and pledged to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It should be a lesson to all of us: if these two adversaries can find a way to stop fighting, why can’t Americans?

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Three Things Families Can Do Together

Posted by Bridge Alliance Education Fund on March 17, 2020

Written by Sally Tannen, Director, 92Y Parenting Center. Reposted from

Families are going to be spending a lot of time together, and our Parenting Center will be offering suggestions for all kinds of activities to keep young children active and engaged in the days ahead. Most important is that parents maintain routines - or create new ones - whether it’s the time children have breakfast and brush teeth or help with daily household chores (now is the perfect time to involve them more!). Routines help ground us. Embrace them!

Here are a few suggestions for fun activities:

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The “Most Abused” Freedom of Information Act Exemption Still Needs to Be Reined In

Posted by Project On Government Oversight on March 03, 2020

By Nick Schwellenbach, Senior Investigator, and Sean Moulton, Senior Policy Analyst. Reposted from

Government documents recently made public show that the federal government continues to abuse a provision of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to unjustifiably keep the public in the dark about important government matters that they have a right to know about. Congress created FOIA to give the public access to the inner workings of the federal government. But the government can misuse the law to avoid transparency and hide documents that shed light on internal problems.

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Creating Better Conversations through Meta-Consensus

Posted by Annie Pottorff on February 25, 2020

Reposted from 

Have you ever talked with someone and, a little too far into the conversation, you realized you were talking about two totally different things? That’s happened at the Jefferson Center office, when we had staff traveling to both Athens, Ohio and Athens, Greece.

Similarly, when it comes to talking about politics, it seems people are increasingly quick to argue with one another, when they might be coming to the discussion with completely different assumptions on a given topic. This makes having a productive conversation, coming to a consensus, or simply listening to one another that much harder if you aren’t on the same (or at least similar) pages to begin with.

Luckily, deliberation, and specifically Citizens Juries, can help people establish this initial understanding: it’s called meta-consensus, or “a general agreement about the nature of an issue but not necessarily about the outcome of it.”


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Coordination Watch: How candidates and outside groups work together to evade anti-corruption laws

Posted by William Gray on February 19, 2020

Reposted from

In the 10 years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has not punished a single candidate or political group for illegally coordinating, according to Issue One’s new project, “Coordination Watch.” 

The project highlights how outside groups that must, by law, be independent from candidates have regularly flouted anti-corruption rules and systematically coordinated with their preferred candidates, allowing wealthy special interests to have outsized influence in our political system. Outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money have injected more than $4.4 billion — or about one of every six dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — into federal elections since 2010. 

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Partisan Takes Won't Define Nonpartisan Action Civics

Posted by Scott Warren on February 11, 2020

By Amy Curran, OK Executive Director, and Scott Warren, CEO. Reposted from Featured on

(Editor’s note: The following commentary appears in response to a commentary published by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ Center for Independent Journalism criticizing the civics-education nonprofit Generation Citizen. OCPA’s center did not respond to a request that this piece be published on their site.)

In the last 10 years, Generation Citizen is proud to have played a leading role in elevating Action Civics as a new, increasingly prominent academic discipline. We feel privileged to have worked together with a politically diverse range of state education agencies and lawmakers — from New York and North Dakota to Oklahoma and Massachusetts — in order to revise social studies standards and pass legislation expanding student access to integrative civic education that blends knowledge of how our government works with opportunities to interact with our public institutions. As educators, administrators, parents and policymakers look for relevant and motivating pedagogies that help young people see their role in our evolving American democratic experience, Action Civics has created a vibrant, dynamic form of civics education.

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Red or Blue? Liberal or Conservative? The Pitfalls of Labels

Posted by Michael Harrington on February 04, 2020

Reposted from

Our political divide between red and blue, left and right, is often characterized in the media as an ideological conflict between liberalism and conservatism. Yet the meanings of these ideological terms are often misinterpreted and mischaracterized–most often by opposing points of view– in order to fit a preferred political narrative. For those on the left, liberalism implies tolerance and empathy, while conservatism connotes bigotry and selfishness. For those on the right, liberalism infers intellectual naiveté and moral degeneracy, while conservatism assumes moral rectitude and informed reason. A clear understanding of political ideology can be useful; false stereotypes, much less so. We should unpackage these terms as they are used in the popular vernacular to understand just how unhelpful and misguided they have become.

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Take a Seat at Oregon’s Kitchen Table: Adapting Targeted Universalism for Broad and Deep Civic Engagement

Posted by Wendy Willis on January 28, 2020

Reposted from (use code "NCL19" if it asks for a password).

In 2011, a group of Oregon civic leaders and national partners got together to discuss their collective hunch that Oregonians needed and wanted more meaningful opportunities to participate in public decision making. In 2012, they founded and launched Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a statewide civic engagement platform, which they housed in the National Policy Consensus Center in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. The idea was to create a permanent piece of civic infrastructure that combined the best thinking in public participation, community organizing, and deliberative democracy with the online capabilities of campaign software and data management.

As former Oregon Attorney General and President of University of Oregon, David Frohnmayer, put it on the day of the launch: "Instead of loud voices or talk radio, this has been designed with a lot of really scientific architecture. The more people participate, the deeper decision makers can probe into the cross sections of what Oregonians think."

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