Preamble to the Summit
What led up to October 29th Bridge Alliance Summit:
After the 2018 Bridge Alliance National Summit, there was an overwhelming sentiment that the cross-partisan movement isn’t nearly as representative as it could be. As a result, we sent out a letter about a month after the Summit asking many of our members to join a diversity task force whose goal would be to ensure the democracy field is genuinely diverse and representative of the country with regard to race/ethnicity, sex/gender, social identity, religion, ideology and age.
After almost a year of research and community interactions by the Bridge Alliance Diversity and Opportunity (BADO) task force it became apparent that the democracy field is currently represented by mostly white, older and progressive-leaning people. Since our democratic republic is premised on equal representation, the democracy field should reflect the diversity of the nation as a whole. Those underrepresented in the democracy field are people of color, conservative thinkers, youth, faith-based leaders and rural residents.
We believe it is imperative that the democracy field become more diverse and inclusive and the Bridge Alliance Grassroots Coalition offers a way for community-based organizations and organizers to collaborate with Bridge Alliance members. The combined efforts of members and the grassroots coalition will provide opportunities for democracy process reform to be of service to community issues, thereby expanding the number of people involved in social, cultural and democratic reforms.
What happened in the Room on October 29th:
This past October, we used the Summit as an opportunity to take a stand for the health of our national family. The idea was to practice democracy in a diverse room, rather than just talk about diversity. The day resulted in many personal connections and network connections; plus we identified many possibilities of projects to pursue together.
We created a travel fund to subsidize the travel costs for people who normally would not be able to attend an event of this nature. The response was amazing as we raised about $50,000 to cover travel costs.
People from all walks of life; journalists, academics, representatives from foundations, philanthropists and many of the nearly 100 Bridge Alliance member organizations were all in the room. Everyone’s voice was heard. Everyone’s stories were recorded.
Going into the day we understood that there are many structural impediments that stop or prevent efforts on the issues that citizens from across the country care about. Our members who work on the structure of healthy self-governance and the behavior / training that is needed for advancing our democracy, learned, shared and formulated strategies in partnership with the diverse audience; an audience that included local community activists, students, and citizens from the left and the right, from big cities and small towns.
And we asked the diverse participants to leave their partisanship at the door. We asked them to rise up that day and to be in the room where it happened.
And indeed THEY DID. Their stories of personal and collective dreams inspired us to believe we could transform our nation into a more perfect union.
While the energy was powerful, we all understood that healthy self governance is far more than music. Democracy is not a spectator sport and we must inspire MILLIONS of citizens to become involved. We asked participants to turn the power of what happened in the room into a larger source of inspiration for millions of citizens across this great land.
Much of the day was spent in developing relationships with people who normally wouldn’t be in “the room where it happened.” Our afternoon work included drafting a short story about the nation in 2039 and how we got there. One group drew their story, and we included it below. Overall, many thanks to the 200 people who participated fully in the Summit.
We ended the day together as ONE voicing the words of Lin Manuel Miranda as we made a toast:
Raise a glass to Freedom
Raise the glass to all of us
Tomorrow there will be more of us
They will tell the story of today.