Watch the recording for this event.
Our society is at a crossroads. Strong sentiments of isolation, exhaustion, and despair from a multi-year global pandemic, increasing economic inequality, and growing toxic polarization foster a sense of doom and gloom. Further, the influential leaders and public figures we traditionally look to for inspiration, guidance, and common purpose instead leave us feeling divided and resentful. At the same time, a growing movement of bridge-builders, organizers, and activists across the United States are engaged in a diverse array of approaches to bring people together and create a society in which everyone feels like they belong and can reach their full potential.
The bridging community plays an important role in this work. Bridging organizations in the U.S. work across divides, including political ideological divides, to encourage empathy and understanding among diverse constituencies. However, many bridging organizations cite difficulties in getting people into the room to even have a conversation. Instead, people share sentiments of disillusionment and apathy to dedicate more time and energy to a process with unclear outcomes or that is unlikely to lead to improvements in their daily lives.
Some bridgers do offer pathways from dialogue for empathy and understanding to collective action for creating positive change for participants’ communities. Yet, it can be challenging to manage and facilitate the constructive polarization that can arise as diverse participants deliberate on potential paths forward.
So how can bridge-builders support one another and the communities with which they engage to show up to the table consistently and fully as we work toward a just, inclusive, pluralistic democracy? What does it mean to model pluralism in a way that centers our common humanity, fairness, and justice? U.S. bridge-builders, organizers, and activists are not alone as they seek to address these challenging questions. With the global rise of exclusionary, autocratic extremism, there’s a lot we can learn from fellow practitioners around the world, and there’s a lot we can gain from global solidarity.
The Horizons Project and Othering & Belonging Institute hosted a deep dive dialogue that explored these key questions and learnings from U.S. and global practitioners as part of the 2023 National Week of Conversation. Speakers will include: