We seek to promote constructive dialogue across political and ideological divides by creating and fostering forums for conversation.
From Huffington Post to Infowars to Fox News to the echo-chamber programming of Facebook, we are working against strong forces of division. Many of us are living many miles away (literally and digitally) from those who see the world differently than we do, yet we share the same home and are affected by the same policies. We are losing connections that are important for broadening our perspectives and fostering reciprocity. There is a growing feeling of contempt that is eating away at possibilities for better communication.
Many people are having trouble seeing the humanity behind the headlines.
This all impacts our collective well-being and carries potentially dangerous ramifications. We believe there are ways to move beyond this, and there are steps we can take to bridge these divides. We believe there is common ground in this country that doesn't currently have a forum to flourish and that much of the division can be countered with conversation and attention.
We have to be the architects of our own future.
Over the last several years I've spent many hours driving through the rural towns near the national forests of the Pacific Northwest. Seeing the homes of this area and the forests and farms stretching in all directions, I think of the warm-hearted people trying to make a living here and I think of how so many of us in the city, just over the horizon, are becoming more and more separated from this world and the people who reside there.
At the heart of this divide are large generalizations, misunderstandings, and the fact that the most extreme voices in our respective ideologies are promoting disdain and determining our collective relationship.
I see a similar dynamic play out within the cities and suburbs of this country, as the more vitriolic voices and extreme statements create and expand divisions, even within like-minded groups.
In the time I've spent working on forest collaboratives (meeting regularly with diametrically opposed stakeholders to find common ground on contentious timber issues), I've learned about many of the misconceptions we all have about each other, about the difficult hurdles we face in finding common ground, and about the shared experiences and values we can all understand but which can be difficult to see at first glance. Our country is currently reeling from new levels of divisiveness and collective skepticism, and I think there is a lot we can do to mend these divisions.
Founder of Bridging Our Divide