Pages tagged "Featured Blog"
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.
Reposted from CoffeePartyUSA.com.
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.
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.
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.*
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.
By Greg Munford. Reposted from Better-Angels.org
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:
By Melissa Appleton. Reposted from ParticipatoryBudgeting.org
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.
Reposted from One America Movement
Last month marked my one-year anniversary with The One America Movement. And reflections on complexity are on my mind.
I traveled across Oklahoma, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Charlottesville this past year. I’ve learned a lot. But above all, I’ve learned that it’s much easier to conceive of your enemy as a caricature than to be forced to grapple with their complexity.
Reposted from AllSides.com
We’ve all done it. We see or hear something (like a news story or meme/tweet) and are outraged — we MUST respond. We. Can. Not. Let. It. Go. Unchallenged.
Besides, we know we are smarter than whoever is offending us, right? (Cue music of self-righteousness.)
Whew. My blood pressure goes up just thinking about it! I’m not often caught up in outrage these days, but when I am, it may take me days to calm down again. And there is so much to be outraged about — from dehumanization to nasty rhetoric to all manner of injustice. It feels more dramatic and heightened than ever before.
So I’m curious — what would happen if we looked a little deeper, both into ourselves and into our society? Outrage isn’t part of who I want to be. What about you?
Reposted from Essential Partners
When I first trained as a mediator, I was awed by a demonstration from one of my early instructors: he would listen to people argue, he would ask a question or reflect something back in fewer than five words—and then he … waited. And waited. He waited until the people in conflict felt they could respond to the question.
Embracing silence lets people take ownership of the conversation, gives them time to think before speaking, and helps them be more intentional. It’s also one of the hardest things we ask of people in a dialogue.