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 to Avoid an ALL CAPS Screaming Match: 5 Tips for Productive Debate

Posted by AllSides, Inc. on June 04, 2019

By Albert Navarra. Reposted from

Hemingway said, “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” What does “the world” actually mean? It could mean macro issues, like human rights, social and economic policies, and international peace and prosperity. If you care about these issues, they are certainly worth promoting through sound argument. But “the world” can also mean your world, in an individual sense—for example, your health, your work, and your relationships. These issues affect you directly and are worth improving through sound argument. So when you think about it, there are as many reasons to argue as there are to live. Your life itself is an argument, a statement of your beliefs, values, and what is important to you, and as such, is worth doing well.

It’s important to note, that true argument, the kind of discourse that advances your perspective through logic and reason, is not a screaming match. It’s not an ALL CAPS free-for-all in the comments section. To argue is not to fight.

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It Takes a Community - How City Leaders Demonstrate the Power of Citizen-Government Collaboration

Posted by Karen Dahl on May 29, 2019

At Cities of Service, we believe cities can and should learn from one another. We work with a coalition of more than 260 cities to help city leaders meet pressing challenges by effectively engaging with citizens. And while we’ve learned a lot during a decade of helping cities address issues ranging from neighborhood revitalization to disaster preparedness, we started the Engaged Cities Award so we could find and elevate even more promising ways that city leaders are collaborating with residents to solve problems.

During the inaugural award, we learned about citizen-driven solutions in cities with populations ranging from 47,000 to 9 million on three continents, led by officials from across the political spectrum. We identified 10 finalists, including three winning cities. City leaders collaborated with residents to create safer streets, healthier communities, and better drivers. Others transformed abandoned buildings and public spaces in order to revitalize neighborhoods and reduce conflict. Many did these things with small budgets or no budget at all, demonstrating that any city can achieve similar results when they work together with citizens.

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Geo-Locating Protest: The Changing Role Of Tech In Social Movements Part I

Posted by Matt Leighninger on May 21, 2019


In 2016, women in several cities began receiving pop-up ads on their smartphones whenever they went near or inside a clinic providing abortions. The ads, which had been sent by anti-choice/ pro-life organizers, offered advice to women who were contemplating abortion. These particular women had been targeted because they had previously looked for Planned Parenthood information online. This practice was ruled an illegal infringement of personal health care data by the attorney general of Massachusetts, but it is one of a number of examples that signal a new phase in the use of technology by activists.

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The Psychology of Polarization And How We Can Overcome Our Prejudices

Posted by on May 14, 2019

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

Posted by Coffee Party on May 07, 2019

Reposted from

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.

So let’s go off line and create a safe space to talk. So many of us are craving civility and real civics but are afraid to talk to each other. So let’s start over right where we live — and face to face — where we can build some trust.

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

Posted by Convergence on April 30, 2019

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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Election spotlight: Breaking down the numbers on every seat up for election this year

Posted by BallotReady on April 23, 2019

By Emma Boczek. Reposted from BallotReady's Medium Platform.

In an era when low voter turnout recently led the Los Angeles city council to offer cash prizes for voting in a school board race, local elections appear to be fading in popularity across the country. Six of the ten most populous cities in the U.S. saw turnout at less than 20 percent in their most recent mayoral election. While surveys show Americans trust local governments more than state and federal governments, they are more likely to cast a vote for a congressperson or president.

But midterm and presidential elections are just one part of a much larger picture. We broke down our data on every seat up for election this year across the country to find the what, where, and when of elections in 2019. Inside and outside of major cities this year, we counted that voters across the country will have had the opportunity to elect candidates to fill 85,725 government seats — candidates who will make decisions affecting citizens on the local, county, and state levels.*

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Does the Assange Indictment Endanger Press Freedom?

Posted by Project On Government Oversight on April 16, 2019

By Jake Laperruque. Reposted from

Yesterday, the Justice Department unsealed its indictment of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks—the organization that released classified materials on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a large trove of State Department cables—following his arrest by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The rapid series of events has left constitutional law experts and journalists alike asking: Is this an isolated case of legitimate criminal charges being brought against someone who, independent of those charges, happens to be a controversial media figure, or does it constitute an attack on the free press?

Assange was not indicted for his publication of classified materials—an action that would have been an overt attack on press freedom of enormous consequence—but rather for allegedly conspiring with Chelsea Manning to attempt to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the nation’s main anti-hacking law. In broad terms, the act prohibits individuals from using computers to gain unauthorized access or exceed authorized access to data and information. The indictment alleges that Assange conspired with Manning to help her crack a password and use it to obtain unauthorized access to an administrator account in Department of Defense systems, which in turn would allow her to better conceal her removal of classified materials.

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Polarization is the Gateway to Authoritarism

Posted by Braver Angels on April 09, 2019

By Greg Munford. Reposted from

We, as Americans, cherish the freedom and right to disagree—which we do, often deeply about important issues that need resolution. But polarization undermines that freedom by tightening prejudices rather than opening thought, thus diminishing the chances for finding resolutions and moving forward.  So while polarization may feel like a righteous champion of freedom and right, it is in fact just the opposite—a stick jammed in the spokes of the democratic discourse of freedom. Here are some of the common ways it does it:

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Rochester asked residents to decide how to reduce poverty. Here are the results.

Posted by Josh Lerner Participatory Budgeting Project on April 02, 2019

By Melissa Appleton. Reposted from

Rosa was bubbling over with excitement. She’d just accepted $50,000 to launch a new childcare program unlike any other in Rochester, NY. After months of working with community members, local partners, and lots of data, Rosa’s community cast participatory budgeting (PB) votes on how to spend $200,000 of New York State government anti-poverty dollars in Rochester-Monroe county—and their votes spoke for themselves: Rosa’s community funded a child care cooperative for parents working night shifts, along with programs for food recovery, tiny houses, an emergency housing fund, and community service.

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