THE VISTA: April 2023

During the month of April, we are reminded of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who said, “they can cut all the flowers, but they can’t stop the spring…” Horizons continues to be inspired by the persistence of so many pro-democracy organizers and the breadth of resources to draw upon. You won’t want to miss the recent Atlantic Council report on Fostering a Fourth Democratic Wave: A Playbook for Countering the Authoritarian Threat.

Diversity of perspectives and approaches is our strength in building pluralistic movement(s) for democracy. Check out the many organizations that participated in this year’s National Week of Conversation in the US. We would especially recommend the conversations that delved into the tensions between dialogic and social justice-oriented approaches. For example, you can re-watch this great webinar that highlighted important research findings from the report: “Building Bridges in the Context of Inequality.” Horizons also co-hosted an event that week with the renowned director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, john a. powell, where we grappled with the challenges of Bridging Towards a Just, Inclusive, Pluralistic Democracy that you can rewatch here.

Philanthropy has an important role to play in supporting healthy pluralism in our democracy movement(s) and this rich article details some frameworks for systems change coalitions that create “paths for everyone” to participate. However, there are pitfalls when calls for pluralism appear devoid of needed power analyses, as expressed in this recent critique by Vu Le at NonProfitAF: Philanthropy’s Equivalent of “All Lives Matter.”

Collaborating across difference isn’t easy. We have to be able to have hard conversations that may cause discomfort. (ICYMI, you can re-watch Horizons’ recent public event with researchers and activists exploring narrative practices that support collaboration across difference.) Horizons appreciates so much the many insights and hard truths shared by our partners and many others.

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to:

READING

How NOT to Dismantle White Supremacy

Sendolo DiaminahScot NakagawaSean Thomas-BreitfeldRinku Senand Lori Villarosa, The Forge

This is an important reflection on the concept of “white supremacy” as applied to organizational practices like using metrics, setting deadlines, or employing the written word.

The Forge brought together five longtime racial justice leaders to discuss why Tema Okun’s article on “White Supremacy Culture” still resonates, the problems with relying on it to criticize organizational practices, and the path forward for racial justice work.

Civil Unraveling in the Deep South

by Baratunde Thurston, Puck

This is a richly nuanced read that weaves in historic memory with the present political dynamics taking place in the Tennessee legislature; building on neuroscience and best practices of bridging across difference. “My hope is that we can find and celebrate other ways of being together. That we know what an insurrection is and isn’t. That we are brave enough to be clear about our failings and our history. And that we can create momentum around a new story of what living together, with all our differences, can look and feel like. Elected officials shouldn’t have to hold protests inside a legislative body for the will of the people to be heard, and elected officials shouldn’t believe that disparaging someone for doing so will earn them anything beyond scorn. But for that to be true, we have to keep trying to create spaces to hear each other and be heard.”

Christian Nationalists Have Provoked a Pluralistic Resistance

by Ruth Braunstein, Religious News Services

This article describes the many organizations and networks working to resist the rise in Christian nationalism, (i.e., “the idea that being Christian is core to the American identity”) that is so intricately tied to white supremacy and authoritarianism in the US. For example, the Poor People’s Campaign challenges a Christian nationalist idea of “scarcity set against a mythologized past of plenty, but only for those who “belong.” Activists… draw up a narrative in which patriotic citizens work together toward a more perfect, inclusive and abundant future that lives up to the country’s founding ideals.”

WATCHING

Bridging Divides: The Principles of Political Identity

Lauren W. Reliford, Mormon Women for Ethical Governance (MWEG) 2023 Conference

You can watch all of the MWEG 2023 Conference sessions on-line with many inspiring talks, with a diversity of women’s perspectives on strengthening democracy. We highly recommend this session with the political director at Sojourners on the impact of our calcified political identities.

The Broke Project: Building Narrative Power

Shanelle Matthews, Trina Stout, Annie Neimand, Michael Huang, Frank2023 Conference

Frank is a community for movement builders and change makers who use communications to drive positive social, institutional, and behavioral change hosted by the Center for Public Interest Communications. They recently released the recordings from their 10th annual gathering. All the sessions offer great insights, but we’d recommend this one session on the Broke Project that gives an overview of in-depth social science research and narrative tools to better understand poverty and effective storytelling for economic justice.

Four Tools for Nervous System Regulation

Emilie Leyes on Tik Tok

If you’re still on TikTok, Horizons enjoys creators like Emilie who share useful tools for overall mental health and responding to feelings of overwhelm (that are so common to those working for social change.) ICYMI, our friends at Think Peace also released the reflections of a recently-convened community of practice – those working at the nexus of social change (including peacebuilding/social justice/transitional justice/reconciliation) and wellbeing (including mental health, bio-psychosocial support, neuroscience and behavioral sciences as well as somatics, embodiment, and holistic approaches to healing).

LISTENING TO

How Does an Ecosystem Act?

Wisdom Practice with Krista Tippett, The OnBeing Project

This is a short, but insightful reflection on an important topic for Horizons: “how to activate connective tissue, and communal momentum, and shared learning, and cross-pollination, and accompaniment, which we obviously need if all of [us are] to meet what is before us in this century….How can those of us committed to orienting in this way start to function like the ecosystem the world needs us to be?”

The Way Back

Throughline Podcast

As we grapple with how societies can heal from past harm and trauma in order to move forward together, this podcast delves into the role of public apologies. “Our society is saturated in apologies. They’re scripted, they’re public, and they often feel less than sincere… It’s not even always clear who they’re for. So, what purpose do these apologies serve? Because real apologies are not just PR stunts. Not just a way to move on. At their best, they’re about acknowledgement and accountability, healing and repair.”

America Needs bell hooks

Lion’s Roar

Lion’s Roar has compiled a great selection of bell hooks’ writings and recorded conversations as a voice for love and justice – particularly for “students in Florida and elsewhere for whom her truth is apparently dangerous. Because we must all celebrate a great voice like bell’s when it is silenced — and needed more than ever. [One] of the Black thinkers targeted in attacks on the straw man of “critical race theory.” Yet far from a threat, the writings of bell hooks are exactly what America needs — honest analysis of injustices past and present, and love and compassion as their answer.”

INTERESTING TWEETS

FOR FUN

World Book Day is an annual celebration of the written word hosted by UNESCO each April 23, with this year’s theme focusing on indigenous languages, recognizing a less rigid concept of “book” to also acknowledge various forms of literature, including oral traditions. You may enjoy this fun list published by Atlas Obscura of their favorite stories about stories. They share tales of bookmakers, booksellers, book collectors, book thieves, and more. Also, as a part of the celebration, you can download one book from around the world for free from Amazon Kindle before April 30.

THE PILLARS PROJECT: The Business Community

Why should business leaders care about authoritarianism?

There is a long-standing recognition among many American business leaders that fostering a democratic political environment is in the interest of American businesses. The research is clear: Democracy is good for business. Populism, polarization, and rising authoritarianism undermine a free market economy, punitively and inefficiently politicize tax and regulatory policyand create significant political risk. While supporting political leaders who undermine democracy may yield short-term benefits, it does not provide the foundation for stable business growth. Multi-national companies have well-developed responsible business principles and best practices for engaging foreign governments and civic groups in fragile democracies, but the sector is just recently turning needed attention to the alarming rate of democratic decline in the US.

Beyond the general advantages of fostering democracy, individual companies have much to gain from leading in pro-democracy work. In a survey of 3,000 Americans, 76% said they would prefer to work at companies that promote democracy, and 81% said they were more likely to recommend those companies’ products.

Thus far, much of the work to promote democracy by businesses has been limited to areas such as get-out-the-vote programs, civic engagement partnerships or depolarization initiatives, all important efforts, but with limited impact given the problem’s scale. As a resurgent debate about the role of business in society becomes increasingly politicized, especially around issues of ESG and DEI, there is a dedicated authoritarian faction deploying tried and true tactics to divide the country while undermining core democratic institutions. This dynamic has opened criticisms of the “politicization of business” and calls for corporate restraint in politics. There is an urgent need, however, for corporations and business leaders to distinguish between normal politics and attempts to roll back democracy. Partnering with others to take courageous stands in the face of these anti-democratic forces is critical, requiring better alignment and coordination with the diverse, trans-partisan pro-democracy civil society ecosystem in the US.

How can business leaders support the pro-democracy ecosystem?

  • Business leaders can be powerful persuaders for democracy through making public statements condemning anti-democratic practices and upholding the rule of law. Such statements are particularly powerful when made in concert with social movement leaders and other “unlikely allies.” For example, the US Chamber of Commerce joint statement with the AFL-CIO on the day of the 2020 election sent a powerful signal that American society was united in its demand for a free and fair election, and a statement by over 70 Black executives condemning a 2021 Georgia law restricting voting rights helped show corporate America’s support for democratic rights.
  • Statements can send powerful signals but are typically insufficient when not backed up by concrete action. Beyond statements, business leaders can refuse to cooperate with authoritarian practices, cutting off their normal patterns of interaction with political leaders and organizations that undermine democracy to continue. For instance, after the January 6th insurrection, nearly 150 companies ended their campaign contributions to the members of Congress who refused to certify the 2020 election.
  • Businesses can also provide material support for key activities by social movements and civil society organizations working directly to advance democracy. Charitable donations are just one piece in a much larger tactical repertoire, and often not the most effective piece. Businesses also have deep resources of technical expertiseinsider knowledge, and human capital that can be leveraged to support pro-democracy work. Several American companies have provided their employees with paid time off to vote, protest, or dedicate time and resources to pro-democracy actions.
  • Business leaders can play a key role in bridgebuilding and negotiation. Business leaders can leverage their relationships to political elites to advocate for democracy in private, and, when appropriate, act as trusted intermediaries between movements and government leaders. For instance, during the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-ins in the civil rights movement executives from the Burlington Fabrics company organized a committee of civic leaders that, through their negotiations with lunch counter business owners, helped give greater legitimacy to the Black student-led sit-ins and facilitated Greensboro’s desegregation.

The Horizons Project’s Work

The Horizons Project recognizes the importance of the business community as a force for democracy and is engaging with many diverse business leaders and coalitions to help establish a common framework to understand and combat the authoritarian threat; and link the corporate sector more strategically with the pro-democracy civil society ecosystem. We are reaching out to or partnering with organizations such as the Civic AllianceLeadership Now, the Erb Institute at the University of Michiganthe Interfaith Center on Corporate ResponsibilityBusiness for Americathe American Sustainable Business Network’s Business for Democracy working groupthe Business Roundtable, and the Ethical Capitalism Group.

  • Research and Analysis: As part of its larger pillars of support project, Horizons is examining how businesses have helped protect democracy both in the US and in other countries during democratic backsliding, and the most effective ways for businesses to leverage their unique position to do so. We will be working with business leaders to share the results of this research, providing practical tools and ideas to help shift priorities and collective action to pro-actively protect democracy from the current authoritarian threat. Horizons will be producing short, action-focused publications and, together with partners, hold a series of salons on Business and Democracy in 2023.
  • Relationship-Building: Research shows that business efforts to promote social good are most effective when done in concert with social movements, and that protecting and restoring American democracy will require united effort across a wide range of sectors. Horizons is building connective tissue between business leaders and other key nodes in the pro-democracy ecosystem to strategize how efforts at protecting democracy can be most effectively coordinated both at the state level and nationally. We plan to organize both formal events and informal conversations between business leaders, grassroots organizers, and others in the pro-democracy space to help build the foundations for united action to protect democracy as we move towards the 2024 election and beyond.

*This article was written by former Director of Applied Research Jonathan Pinckney.

THE VISTA: February 2023

The Horizons Project is celebrating Black History and Black Excellence this month and every month. This is especially important as this history is currently being contested and censored in some US states. To learn more, check out Gen Z for Change’s TikTok on the AP African Studies debates in Florida. One of their Black History Month videos also highlights the need to recognize both historic figures, but also current (youth!) leaders deserving of celebration. You can also watch an informative series of Black History Month videos from TheNorthSide_Historian’s TikTok channel.

As February comes to a close, you won’t want to miss this conversation about the on-going impact of the 1619 Project and its documentary series on Hulu. We also strongly recommend this inspiring Momentum podcast episode with the leadership team at Race Forward: The Beat of The Racial Justice Movement. This is a beautiful Twitter thread on the long life of Rosa Parks that goes beyond the iconic moment when she sat in the front of the bus. Why is it so important to keep talking about the reality of slavery and racial injustice within the context of the movement for truth, racial healing, and transformation? American Promise shared a powerful graphic to put the temporal aspect of our history in context. And while many organizations are still struggling with the best way to implement their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) commitments, Pedro de Silva II wrote a thought-provoking piece, Diversity and the Rightness of Being Wrong, on the challenges of fitting relational work into transactional environments.

We hope you enjoy some of the other materials we have been reading, watching, and listening to this month. This rich diversity of approaches and voices truly helps in Forging a People Powered Democracy, which happens to be the theme of an upcoming conference hosted by the 22nd Century Initiative this July in Minneapolis. Horizons looks forward to seeing you there! Find out more about pre-registration here.

READING

A Ban Isn’t a Plan

by Anand Giridharadas, The.Ink

If you haven’t read The Persuaders, we highly recommend it! In this short piece, Anand extols the need to Focus on building a movement that can beat American fascism: “We need to build a movement like we never have before: attractive, fun, substantive, visionary, tomorrow-oriented, rooted in people’s lives, open-armed, fiery, merciful… A movement that listens. And has the fortitude to listen to people who think despicable things and keep listening not out of masochism but because of an abiding, strategic impulse to win.”

Blurring the Boundaries

by Brett Davidson, International Resource for Impact and Storytelling

Brett describes the way narrative-change work can be negatively affected by the way organizing is often siloed along lines of issues and identities. He recommends developing new conceptual containers for our work based on the visions we want for the world, rather than the injustices we are trying to eradicate. The article lays out the importance of partnering with creatives to craft and advance new interconnected narratives and describes four potential new “containers” for this cross-siloed work: inspiring metaphors of rope or braid, breath, family, and home.

If Americans Hate Government, Why Would They Value Democracy?

by Stephen Hill, Democracy SOS

If Americans want democracy to flourish, and we want Americans to mobilize to implement badly needed reforms, then Hill highlights the need to reawaken our collective imaginations to the positive role that government has played, and could play, in our lives. He notes that we exist simultaneously as individuals and as participants in an ongoing social experiment in self-governance and explores the need to wage better public relations on government’s positive role to counteract an anti-government bias as a precursor to pro-democracy organizing.

WATCHING

Conversation with Julia Roig

Beyond Intractability

Heidi and Guy Burgess lead the Beyond Intractability website, which includes an important compilation of conversations and musings on the intersection between conflict transformation and social justice. On February 17, Heidi and Guy interviewed Horizons’ Chief Network Weaver, Julia Roig, on her work as a systems-level organizer and how Horizons is focusing their weaving efforts on the rise of authoritarianism in the US. You can read more about some of the tensions and issues we discussed in their newsletter here, and also some of Julia’s previous comments on their “massively parallel approaches” to social change.

Dr. Gabor Maté on “The Myth of Normal”

Democracy Now! Productions

In this extended interview, Canadian physician and author Dr. Gabor Maté discusses his new book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture. He describes the ways healing requires a reconnection between the mind and the body and the importance of cultivating a sense of community, meaning, belonging, and purpose.

Why is Everyone So Angry?

Liv Boeree, YouTube Channel

Liv Boeree’s YouTube channel explores the fringes of science, game theory, and philosophy. In this short film, she describes the dynamics of toxic polarization; how online outrage is spilling over into real world interactions; the economic forces of media industry; and how to game the attention economy to turn it into something that works better for society.

LISTENING TO

The Murder of Tyre Nichols, the Authoritarian Takeover of Florida Education, and the Case for Teaching CRT

Is This Democracy Podcast

Lilliana Mason, Thomas Zimmer, and Perry Bacon Jr. share their thoughts on the murder of Tyre Nichols and why the lack of accountability for police departments is a democratic crisis. They also discuss why the rejection of the AP African American Studies course is emblematic of an escalating assault on public education and how the recurring “history wars” are really conflicts over who gets to define American national identity. They emphasize how this is not just a Florida story, as the authoritarian faction within the Republican party is trying to mandate a white nationalist understanding of the past and the present, and censor any critical dissent, wherever they are in charge.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Authoritarianism Around the Globe

Burn the Boats with Ken Harbaugh Podcast

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat describes the similarities between current authoritarian movements and those of the past. Her most recent book, Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present, examines how authoritarians use propaganda, virility, corruption, and violence to stay in power, and how they can be opposed. If you’d like to hear more from Ruth, you can subscribe to her weekly newsletter Lucid for free.

Orange Alternative

99% Invisible Podcast

This episode discusses creative nonviolent civil resistance tactics utilized in Poland before the end of the Cold War, tied into what Russians are doing to voice their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. Today, a protest movement happening in Russia, which some people have compared to the Polish Orange Alternative is called The Little Picketers. “The little picketers are small, clay figurines, about the size of the palm of your hand that are placed throughout Russian cities. Some of them hold peace signs, or Ukrainian flags, or anti-war messages. It’s easy for anyone to get some clay and make a Little Picketer, and then discreetly drop it off in a public space without anyone else noticing. They usually get thrown away by Russian authorities — but before that happens, a photo is taken and submitted to an Instagram account, where they persist.”

INTERESTING TWEETS

FOR FUN

Think Yourself Better: 10 Rules of Philosophy to Live By

by Julian Baggini, The Guardian

This article lays out advice from philosophers about how to think – and live – well. One of our favorites is number eight from Ludwig Wittgenstein: to seek clarity not certainty. “One of the few certainties we have is that certainty of any interesting kind is rarely possible. If you seek greater clarity, on the other hand, new vistas open up… Another reason to be suspicious of certainty is that it is seductive. Certainty [can be] the friend of dogmatism, arrogance, and fundamentalism.”

How Can Funders Support Pro-democracy Movements?

As the United States celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day on 16 January, it is a moment to look back on the ways a broad-based, pro-democracy movement came together to push for civil rights and racial justice. Looking ahead to 2023, the need to galvanize such a large-scale, diverse movement is as crucial as ever.

This article was written by Chief Network Weaver Julia Roig and was first published on Alliance Magazine.

The alarming rates of democratic decline and rising authoritarianism around the world are well documented. Philanthropists can find inspiration from the diversity of entry points for the many actors involved in the US civil rights movement and play their part to help break down the often siloed and fragmented pro-democracy efforts of today.

‘Anyone who starts out with the conviction that the road to racial justice is only one lane wide will inevitably create a traffic jam and make the journey infinitely longer,’ 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Stride Towards Freedom

This quote from Dr King, taken from his book about the Montgomery bus boycott, extols the need for multiple entry points for movement participation with various, complementary approaches and roles. Such systems approach to countering authoritarianism and fighting for democracy requires a systemic view of where funding can have the most leverage within the very complex pro-democracy movement ecologies that continue to evolve around the world. Studies show that movements are most successful when there is a wide diversity of societal participation. While different country contexts vary, funders have several ways they can support the process of broadening and coalescing pro-democracy movements:

  • Fund mapping efforts to help different actors see themselves as a part of the larger movement. Many funders engage in mapping efforts, along geographic or technical lines – but these are often intended for internal use and/or to illuminate who is doing what to ‘pick winners’ for grant-making. Ecosystem mapping is critical, however, for the broader purpose of helping the multitude of activists and organizations to engage in joint planning and to determine complementary efforts, a process of continual updating and reflection. Funders can support gathering different mappers together to avoid redundancies, aggregate complex information, make sense of different analyses and theories of change and ensure this information is open and accessible to all actors as a convening, sense-making, and relationship-building tool.
  • Strengthen collective action muscles. Funders are used to supporting coalitions or networks that come together for specific policy goals, electoral gains, or identity-based human (civil) rights campaigns. This is important work, but these siloed efforts do not necessarily add up to the level of mobilization needed to respond to . Whether it’s across issues, identities, ideologies, or expertise, many groups are not used to working together proactively towards higher-level shared goals because of competition for resources, a lack of a shared analysis, a myopic focus on their ‘lane’ or simply because of lack of awareness of others’ work. Funders can make a big difference in supporting the connective tissue between organizations, coalitions, and networks, bridging those working at multiple levels, with different constituencies and perspectives as a part of a united front to protect democracy. Strengthening the collective action muscles to respond with urgency also includes the slow work of relationship-building, creating spaces to plan together, sharing resources, and collaborating on targeted activities across these lines of difference.
  • Support training, coaching, and facilitation infrastructure. At the time of the civil rights movement, great effort was placed on building up the skills for nonviolent action, civil resistance, and strategic partnering. Recent research shows that of all the kinds of external support for movements, sustainable access to training and learning opportunities is the most impactful. There is an urgent need to scale up training, coaching and facilitation capabilities and offerings within and amongst movement actors. Especially those skills that will support diversifying and broadening participation in democracy movements: conflict resolution skills, working with complexity and systems thinking, nonviolent discipline, and the multitude of civil resistance tactics that will allow movements to go on offence and respond creatively to the ever-evolving authoritarian playbook. Supporting better networking of seasoned trainers and coaches to share and update their resources and frameworks; aggregating and disseminating available training programs throughout the ecosystem, cross-fertilizing participation amongst different network nodes to build relationships with training programs and offering peer mentoring opportunities across regions globally will all make a huge difference.
  • Provide both general operating funds and quick response funds to spur collaboration. One common obstacle to collaboration across different network nodes within the pro-democracy ecosystem is a scarcity mindset, and the fact that participating in these movement spaces is time-consuming and often seen as taking away needed human resources and focus from an organization’s primary mission. General operating support allows groups and movements to have the breathing space to go on the offence together and not always be in reactive mode. Funders can also offer quick access to funding for diverse actors to travel to attend coalition events, to support convenings amongst groups, to bring together researchers with practitioners to share analysis and to fund key devised narrative campaigns and other experiments amongst different network nodes.

In 2023, let us celebrate Dr King and one of the greatest pro-democracy movements in history by having a bold vision for democratic renewal that incorporates the numerous ‘roads’ to justice. The pro-democracy ecosystem needs philanthropy to use its influence and strategic investments to bring together the many actors working on separate but interrelated efforts (such as violence prevention, strategic litigation and legislation, electoral politics, grassroots mobilization of different constituencies, research and analysis, campaigning, and cultural change efforts, etc.) These critical connections will be key to realizing the next greatest pro-democracy movements to come.

THE VISTA: August 2022

In the Northern hemisphere, August is a quiet month when we try to stay cool, hopefully take time off, and then prepare for the academic year to kick off again. The slower pace has been a perfect time for the Horizons team to dig into so many new narrative resources, like this meaty compilation from the Narrative Initiative. Narrative competency is a key area of exploration for Horizons; and we remain committed to weaving bridgebuilding and powerbuilding concepts into our Narrative Engagement Across Difference initiative.

This IFIT report on Narrative, Power and Polarisation highlights that instead of one unifying narrative to counter polarization, we need to illuminate narrative biases, change narratives from within, and amplify smaller stories that help build social engagement at scale. This aligns with More In Common’s new report on American identity, which finds that personal stories of family history are a powerful way to break through the “us vs. them” narrative.

Many narrative practitioners are coming to the conclusion that we must be more conscious of fostering a sense of agency and community, rather than perpetuating a competitive, scarcity mindset that often comes with stories of crises. Framing choices have the power to inspire all of us to work through shared problems and to embrace a civic identity that respects differences, as also highlighted in this wonderful video series from Doing Things With Stories.

Here are some other resources we have found inspiring this month:

READING

Callings from “Fierce Civility”

By: Curtis Ogden

Civility has (almost) become a dirty word, seen as naive and impossible by some (at least when considering certain cultural and political divides), and as harmful by others, if ‘being civil’ means not speaking or hearing truths or working for social justice.” Fierce civility is not about ‘chronic niceness’ or conflict avoidance, but rather advocates for stances of assertiveness (as opposed to aggression) and receptivity (as opposed to passivity.)”

Cancel Culture

By: Amna Khalid and Jeffrey Aaron Snyder

“In the United States today, the left and right alike have aggressively embraced cancelation campaigns. Each side has its own distinctive objectives, strategies, initiatives and networks—as well as its own particular strongholds.”

How to Be Influenced

By: Ian Leslie

“We live in age of social influence, and while there is no shortage of advice on [how] to influence others, how to build a following, how to change minds – there is a dearth of thinking on how to be influenced…Each human being is bounded but permeable, a creature capable of making its own thoughts and actions but prone to copying and adapting those of others. When everyone around us is doing the same thing, we feel a pressure to join in that is almost physical in its force.”

Not Knowing

By: Maree Conway

“If we accept that we don’t know why someone is doing something we don’t accept, we can begin to accept that it may not be a case of us right, them wrong. We’ve observed something that arouses something in us, but we can reject being judgemental as a response. We can accept that not knowing is okay. Of course, there are situations where this stance won’t apply and events that cause harm to others in particular are just wrong.”

A Funder’s Guide to Building Social Cohesion

By: The Democracy Funders Network, in collaboration with Civic Health Project, New Pluralists, and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

This guide is intended to orient funders to the different ways civil society actors are thinking about and addressing the problems of affective polarization and eroding social trust.

WATCHING

Building a Larger Us

Larger US put out this great video to accompany their new report on the need for collective psychology to counter tribalism and polarization. You can also find excellent explanatory Twitter threads here.

Are Americans Thinking More Systemically?

Check out this roundtable discussion hosted by the FrameWorks Institute featuring community leaders and organizers discussing the implications of shifting mindsets from individualistic to systemic level thinking and the impacts on health equity, the economy, race, and politics.

Radical Belonging and Bridging: A Path Forward for Societies in Crisis?

“…for too long, civic leaders concerned centrally with democracy and those concerned with the rights of marginalized and minority communities have worked in silos, despite the many shared goals and values that both groups share.” Watch this important conversation, the first in a series, that launched the Democracy & Belonging Forum of the Othering & Belonging Institute.

LISTENING

Hungarian Autocracy and The American Right

By: Fresh Air

“New Yorker journalist Andrew Marantz says Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s administration has rewritten Hungary’s constitution to consolidate his power. U.S. conservatives are taking note.”

Radical Grievance with Malkia Devich-Cyril

By: The Emergent Strategy Podcast

“Grief is power…and a way to strength and intimacy.” This is a great conversation about our collective embrace of grief that can also aid in our journey to build belonging.

Eboo Patel and the Vision for an Interfaith America

By: Ashoka

Eboo Patel discusses his most recent book, We Need to Build: Field Notes For Diverse Democracy, to inspire and equip changemakers to move beyond critique and begin to build the next pluralist chapter of American life.

INTERESTING TWEETS

FOR FUN

Reach for the stars! The images released by NASA’s Webb telescope captured everyone’s imaginations this month. Check out this great breakdown from The Washington Post, which provides more background into exactly what each photo portrays.

So much of the news is consumed with what’s going wrong in the world that it can be hard to point to the bright spots and beauty that also exists. Check out the Peace Dots Project, which seeks to do just that in Buffalo, NY.