Calling in Calling Out

Building powerful movements for a just and democratic society requires tearing down the walls separating people and welcoming new people into the movement. It takes recognizing that individuals, shaped by their lived experiences, are in different places along their journeys towards growth and change. Call-out culture, which includes public shaming to hold people accountable and oftentimes claiming one’s own moral high ground, can generate antagonism and challenge our ability to make progress together. But what other strategies do we have to hold people accountable for saying and doing harmful things?

Social justice and women’s rights activist Loretta Ross makes a case for the need to “call-in” instead of call-out. This approach prioritizes relationship-building over shaming. By “calling-in” someone who makes a harmful comment, a person may take them aside to share why the comment was harmful or inappropriate and offer alternative framing instead of calling them out in front of a large group. It creates a compassionate space for the person to reflect, hold themselves accountable and grow, instead of a space in which they may deny or deflect responsibility, retreat and/or not return out of shame or embarrassment.

However, not all situations lend themselves to calling someone in. Urgency, power dynamics, and individual safety are all important factors to consider when choosing how to respond to someone engaging in harmful behavior. In other words, calling out may sometimes be the more appropriate approach, especially if the individual in question has more power or is a repeat offender that has not been open to change. Yet, too often, we resort to calling out as the first and/or only option when this is not always the case, and we do so in ways that can cause additional harm and shame. By taking the time to pause and reflect on our intended outcome and how it will serve our larger goals for positive social change, we can create opportunities for people to reflect, grow and re-engage with accountability and new understanding.

Constructive methods of calling in and calling out both involve holding individuals and institutions accountable for harm while centering human dignity and embracing individuals’ capacity to change. However, calling in usually involves a private conversation with a small group or 1:1, while calling out means engaging in a more public space or forum. Based on the larger goal, an individual may choose either approach, or a mix of both—all while centering these approaches around care and a common humanity. At the Horizons Project, we work with networks of academics, social justice activists, bridge-builders, and democracy advocates to better understand how and when to use calling in and calling out methods in a way that will prevent harm, inspire collective learning, and hold people accountable with love.

*We would like to thank Tabitha Moore, a Vermont-based racial justice trainer and activist, for her thought leadership and contributions to this area of exploration as part of The Horizons Project research team.

RESOURCES

Interested in learning more? Check out these resources on calling in and calling out that are inspiring us right now.

Calling In and Calling Out Guide, Harvard University’s Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging

“In fostering spaces of inclusion and belonging, it is important to recognize, name, and address when individuals or groups with marginalized identities are experiencing harm, such as bias or discrimination. The concepts of “calling out” or “calling in” have become popular ways of thinking about how to bring attention to this type of harm. Knowing the difference between these concepts can help us reflect, then act, in the ways we feel will best promote constructive change. This guide is a continuously evolving document that we plan to improve over time.”

Interrupting Bias: Calling Out vs. Calling In, The Vermont-NEA Racial Justice Task Force and Seed the Way

A quick tips guide for when you might choose to call someone in or out and how to do it.

#ListenFirst Conversations Complete Guide, #Listen First

“A #ListenFirst conversation is any conversation that helps us see each other across differences and discover human connection. It might be between two friends or among many strangers. It might be on a park bench, in a classroom, in the workplace, at home, or online. Regardless of where you are or who you’re with, here are our favorite principles and tips!”

Shame, Safety and Moving Beyond Cancel Culture, The Ezra Klein Show

“When is cancellation merited or useful? When is it insufficient or harmful? And what other tools are available in those cases?”

Loretta J. Ross: “Don’t call people out – call them in”, TED Talk

‘We live in a call-out culture, says activist and scholar Loretta J. Ross. You’re probably familiar with it: the public shaming and blaming, on social media and in real life, of people who may have done wrong and are being held accountable. In this bold, actionable talk, Ross gives us a toolkit for starting productive conversations instead of fights — what she calls a “call-in culture” — and shares strategies that help challenge wrongdoing while still creating space for growth, forgiveness and maybe even an unexpected friend. “Fighting hate should be fun,” Ross says. “It’s being a hater that sucks.”’

How to talk to insurrectionists and conspiracy theorists, Nafees Hamid, CNN

“I’m a cognitive scientist who has been studying the drivers of political violence for the better part of a decade. My work has involved interviews, social network analysis, psychology experiments, and surveys of jihadists, white nationalists, and conspiracists. My colleagues and I also conducted the first-ever brain scan studies on jihadist supporters. Our findings point to one thing that ordinary people can do if they feel that someone they know might be getting radicalized: Stay connected.”

Restorative Movement Building

What does it mean to challenge injustices and address societal harms in ways that strengthen social bonds and encourage longer-term healing? Restorative Movement Building is at the nexus of social justice and peacebuilding work. Individuals using restorative tools, approaches and mindsets are challenging injustice, building power and disrupting harmful systems in ways that promote healing, prioritize belonging and seek societal transformation.

Overall, this approach centers love, nonviolence and shared humanity as essential to transforming society in a way that works for everyone. At The Horizons Project, we see Restorative Movement Building as a central thread across all our areas of exploration. It can incorporate calling in and calling out strategies, create space for healing trauma, address toxic polarization through prioritizing relationships and provide a frame for a larger narrative focused on collective action while building belonging.

While activists, peacebuilders, and organizers have been working on social and economic justice, political violence prevention, and democracy strengthening issues for decades, they tend to work in siloes based on different approaches. At times, and especially in the short-term, these approaches can be in tension with one another. Social justice actors see a real urgency to raise awareness of injustices and address the power dynamics that uphold them to achieve transformational change. On the other hand, peacebuilders may seek a slower pace of change to make time for building relationships and encourage empathy and understanding so that no one gets left behind or inadvertently excluded as society progresses.

These different approaches can strengthen and reinforce one another in the long-term and make change more sustainable. The key challenge The Horizons Project is attempting to address is to help all these actors see themselves as operating within the larger ecosystem of social change working towards shared goals. Restorative practices help us to accept these tensions as normal and expected, so different groups can come together to learn and grow in their respective approaches (emergence) and determine who is best placed to take on specific roles/actions.

Restorative Movement-Building is a concept that the Horizons team is still exploring, scoping, and defining for ourselves. We are eager to engage with and learn from our partners in the process. Check back later for more information and resources as we embark on this journey together.

RESOURCES

Interested in learning more? Check out ten resources on Restorative Movement Building that are inspiring us right now.

Healing Resistance: A Conversation with Author Kazu Haga, The Horizons Project

“Nonviolence is a cornerstone of activism and radical change, but less attention has been given to the restorative power of nonviolent resistance. In this recent Horizons Project event, Senior Advisor Maria J. Stephan interviewed author and Kingian nonviolence practitioner Kazu Haga on his book, Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm. The event publicly launched the Horizons Project.”

Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm, Kazu Haga, Parallax Press

“Activists and change agents, restorative justice practitioners, faith leaders, and anybody engaged in social progress and shifting society will find this mindful approach to nonviolent action indispensable. Nonviolence was once considered the highest form of activism and radical change. And yet its basic truth, its restorative power, has been forgotten. In Healing Resistance, leading trainer Kazu Haga blazingly reclaims the energy and assertiveness of nonviolent practice and shows that a principled approach to nonviolence is the way to transform not only unjust systems but broken relationships.”

The Relational Work of Systems Change, Katherine Milligan, Juanita Zerda and John Kania, Stanford Social Innovation Review

“Sometimes we lose sight of a simple truth about systems: They are made up of people. Despite all of the frameworks and tools at our disposal and all of our learning as a field of practice, purely technical, rational approaches to systems change will not make much of a dent in shifting power or altering our most deeply held beliefs. If most collective impact efforts fall short of supporting people to change in fundamentally consciousness-altering ways, then, the system they are a part of will not significantly change either.”

The Three Horizons of innovation and culture change, Daniel Christian Wahl, Activate the Future

“‘Three Horizons thinking’ is an effective method for making sense of and facilitating cultural transformation and exploring innovation and wise action in the face of uncertainty and not-knowing.”

This graphic is not in the book chapter this excerpt is taken from. Source: H3Uni

Why coalition building isn’t about the coalition: Listening, leading, and making change happen, Nick Martlew, Mobilisation Lab

“Think of any campaign success you’ve seen or been involved in. I would wager good money (and as Yorkshireman I don’t say that lightly) that it wasn’t achieved by one actor alone: it was collective action that brought about change. Now think of when collective action becomes the worst form of coalition building, sacrificing ambition and wasting time. For the people whose rights we’re fighting for, that’s unacceptable. It’s also avoidable.”

Making Change: What Works, The Institute for Public Policy Research

“Movements change the world. Throughout history, loosely organized networks of individuals and organizations have sought changes to societies – and won. From the abolitionist struggle and campaigns for voting rights to #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, the impact of movements can be seen everywhere. Over the last year, IPPR and the Runnymede Trust have sought to understand what we can learn from movements that have made change – as well as those who have fallen short – for our efforts to create change today.”

Collaborating with the Enemy, Adam Kahane, Harold Jarche

“When two or more parties get together to address a problematic situation, they ask themselves a series of questions to understand their options. First they determine if they can change the situation. If so, can they effect change unilaterally, in which case they can force their solution. If they cannot change the situation, then they have two unilateral decisions possible: adapt to what has been forced on them, or exit the situation if possible. If they can change the situation but cannot effect change unilaterally,” then new options open.

Synergizing Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding Guide and Online Course, United States Institute of Peace

“The Synergizing Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding (SNAP) guide provides a strategic framework for activists, peacebuilders, and organizers working to transform violent conflict and advance a just peace. It demonstrates how nonviolent action and peacebuilding approaches can be used together synergistically to mobilize communities, address power imbalances and conflict drivers, and support inclusive, participatory peace processes.”

Organizing Tools from Liberating Structures

“This website offers an alternative way to approach and design how people learn and work together. It provides a menu of thirty-three “Liberating Structures” to replace or complement conventional meeting and engagement practices.”

Trainings from East Point Peace Academy

With trainings on healthy conflict engagement, Kingian nonviolence, and vulnerability, East Point Peace Academy provides diverse opportunities to build up your restorative resistance practice.

Movement Ecology: Self-Paced Course, Ayni School

“This self-paced mini course on Movement Ecology is an introduction to understanding the many different strategies that arise when we are faced with creating social change.”

Exploring Narrative Practices for Broad-based Movements in Contexts of Democratic Decline

This piece was originally published on March 1, 2023 on OpenGlobalRights by Chief Network Weaver Julia Roig and James Savage.

Versión en Español

The rise in authoritarianism and democratic decline around the world is well-documented, and yet the analysis of why this is happening and prioritizing what to do about it is not as clear cut. The ways that social movements incorporate diversity and create space for reflection together—including narrative practices—are therefore more important than ever, so that movement actors model the democratic values they are advocating and can find common cause with potential allies who may have different approaches or priorities.

Anti-democratic forces rely on fueling deeply divided societies with a diet of dangerous othering of whatever racial, ethnic, gendered, or religious “out-group” should be blamed for society’s ills. Operating within these divisive contexts, pro-democracy, rights-based actors often struggle with fragmentation among and between movements and potential allies.

The Narrative Engagement Across Difference Project (NEAD) was designed by a consortium of organizers, academics, and philanthropists to take a deep look at narrative practices from a multidisciplinary lens and to reflect on how we can better unlock more effective collective action within diverse, broad-based movements.

The NEAD team starts from a broad understanding of “narrative” as a process of making meaning, acknowledging that humans understand themselves and the world around them through stories (characters, plot lines, and values). There is a burgeoning interest in narrative studies and practice within the field of social change and movement-building. Many narrative practitioners and funders are using creative means to build narrative infrastructure and power, especially for those whose voices have been traditionally marginalized or “othered,” and yet we continue to experience fragmentation and toxic othering within many of our movement ecologies where civic space is closing.

To ground NEAD’s future exploration in existing research, the team recently released the findings of a broad literature review. The report categorizes three areas of narrative practice that support collaboration between groups coming together with the aim of reducing systems of authoritarianism and strengthening democratic values:

1. Legitimacy—how narratives regulate and determine the nature of interactions between people (i.e., how we position ourselves and others as legitimate, worthy, good, or bad);

2. Power—the dynamics of relations and decision-making in the narrative landscape (i.e., how and where control is exerted or privilege experienced to deem what is acceptable, normal, or transgressive); and

3. Complexity—the capacity of any narrative to evolve and change (i.e., when and how the elaboration of nuanced, multifaceted descriptions of people, events, and values produce multiple, complex, and evolving stories and meaning-making).

The research offers several provocations—or cautionary tales—with implications for common narrative practices within social movements that are worth highlighting and wrestling with.

First, should we seek a “shared narrative”?In coalitional work, we often assume that if we share a narrative of the social change we seek, then we will have shared attitudes and we can share work and collective action (e.g., “Immigrants are welcome here”). But endeavoring to negotiate a shared narrative, while common practice for strategic communications goals to reach a broader audience with consistent framing and messaging choices, could impede our ability to bring different perspectives into pro-democracy movements.

Seeking a shared narrative as a starting point for convening allies that then drives collective action also runs the risk of developing overly simplified narratives among those who already think alike and who can become “stuck in their story” without the benefit of being pushed to see beyond their own blind spots. Instead, complexifying narratives can be a movement-building tool, allowing both people and stories of lived experience to have layers, nuance, with multiple identities and contexts that can be woven together.

Second, delegitimizing “others” often backfires and gives fuel to harmful narratives. When people feel heard, they open themselves to reflection, consider alternatives to their own perspectives, and better engage in ways that build trust and deepen relationships. Narratives that delegitimize and promote othering intentionally or not shut down this aperture: for example, “Beware of letting the Trump-a-saurus Rex animals out of the zoo, or they will wreak havoc on our democracy.” Determining when our narrative strategies are undermining our overall movement goals of a pluralistic society in the long term is a crucial reflective practice.

When movements feed into an “us-versus-them” zeitgeist, we give fuel to the authoritarian playbook that thrives on the tactics of divide and rule. This lesson applies to legitimizing across all types of difference (ideological, generational, racial, religious; both within our groups and between groups) not as a call for everyone to just “get along” but to commit to a reflective practice of engaging diverse actors and their lived experience to broaden movement participation, while unmasking the systems of discrimination and oppression that sow division and harm.

Third, there are consequences of activating negative emotions as motivators. In the short term, negative emotions like anger and outrage are proven motivators for movement participation, especially within repressive environments and in the context of online engagement. The trade-offs demonstrated by the NEAD report indicate that using anger to mobilize can often result in a simplified narrative landscape of bad actors and/or righteous anger that sets up a contestation of dominant narratives lacking in complexity. Simple narratives that emphasize the need for security are a common tactic used by authoritarian regimes. While there are situations when moral clarity in a simplified message is needed—for instance, “Police brutality and murder of civilians is wrong and must stop”—the call for movement participation that recognizes justified anger and grieving, while also complexifying the nature of systemic injustices can help to diversify movement participation. In the long term, the report findings posit that simple narratives that rely on activating negative emotions can forestall needed conversations and broader support for critical reflections among potential allies.

This is just a taste of the rich findings within the literature review. The initial multi-disciplinary scoping effort was intended to offer practitioners and funders fodder for reflection on the narrative practices within movements to build stronger collective power to tackle authoritarianism and nurture democratic and civic space. The NEAD team is committed to joining efforts with learning partners within the pro-democracy, pro-rights ecosystem to continue reflecting on and experimenting with these narrative practices in different contexts.

Julia Roig is the Chief Network Weaver at The Horizons Project, which bridges peacebuilding, democracy, and social justice communities in the US and globally. Twitter @jroig_horizons

James Savage is the Program Director for the Enabling Environment for Human Rights Defenders Program at the Fund for Global Human Rights. His work focuses on civic space issues, including narrative-building. Twitter: @jamesmsavage

Violence and the Backfire Effect

Any movement that seeks to stand up against powerful opposition and advocate on important political issues must be prepared for a violent reaction. Eighty-six percent of major nonviolent movements around the world have faced significant violent government repression. And other forms of resistance to movements, such as disorganized violence or harassment by movement opponents, are so common that social scientists call it a “law” that movements will experience them.

But there are ways that movements can handle violence to their advantage. Through skillful rhetorical and practical strategies, they can cause the violence directed at them to backfire. Violence, rather than suppressing the movement it targets, can end up strengthening it. For instance, during the civil rights movement, attempts by the Selma police to violently disperse civil rights marchers backfired when dramatic pictures and footage of dogs and water hoses being turned on peaceful protesters sparked widespread outrage.

Why does violence backfire?

Violence backfires when news of violence is widely disseminated and the violence is framed as unjust, illegitimate, and possible to do something about. When these messages are clearly communicated and accepted, it can become psychologically costly for previously passive observers to simply stand by and ignore the violence. People sympathetic to the movement who have previously not participated in it can become emboldened to participate, and it can even change the perspectives of former opponents to be more sympathetic to the movement.

All these aspects (wide dissemination, framing as unjust, and framing as possible to do something about) are critical. If violence is perceived as regrettable but justly and legitimately carried out, then those learning about it will not be motivated to attempt to do anything about the perpetrators. If violence is perceived as unjust, but impossible to change, then audiences are more likely to be motivated to simply shrug their shoulders and accept it as inevitable. For instance, the rising frequency of mass shootings in the United States and lack of meaningful policy responses have sparked widespread apathy among most Americans.

What situations make it less likely that violence will backfire?

Structural racism and engrained patterns of prejudice make violence less likely to backfire. In an online experiment, simply showing a picture of Black protesters made American survey respondents more likely to describe a protest as violent and say that police should stop it. However, survey respondents disapproved much more vigorously of actual physical violence. People from marginalized groups face additional challenges when it comes to sparking backfire. Yet through maintaining nonviolent discipline they can maximize their chances of doing so. Highly polarized environments also make backfire more challenging, as partisans may be more likely to simply perceive their opponents’ actions as violent, no matter what they do.

A media environment suffused in misinformation and disinformation also presents a significant challenge to sparking backfire. For example, in 2020, data clearly shows that the Black Lives Matter movement was overwhelmingly peaceful, even more peaceful than the civil rights movement of the 1960s, despite facing significant violence from police forces and movement opponents. Yet polarized media discourses that spread misleading or inaccurate information about high levels of violence in BLM protests undermined support for the protests and reduced the backfire of violence directed towards them.

What can movements do to increase the potential for violence to backfire?

The standard toolkit to prevent violence from backfiring involves five key steps: cover-up, devaluation, reinterpretation, official channels, and intimidation/bribery. Perpetrators of violence seek first to prevent information about the event from emerging, then to devalue the targets of violence, then to reinterpret the facts to make them seem less damaging, then often to diffuse and redirect popular anger through time-consuming official channels, and finally, when all else fails, to intimidate or buy off those who might spread information about the violence. In a polarized environment, reinterpreting the facts is often the centerpiece of this toolkit. For instance, media and political figures on the far Right have sought to downplay the violence of the January 6th attack on the Capitol or claim that the attack was a “false flag” operation conducted by government agents or the far Left.

Enhancing backfire involves denying opponents these five strategies: clearly communicating information about violence, validating the target of violence, interpreting the situation as unjust, refusing to let official channels sap legitimate outrage, and insulating against intimidation and bribery. These struggles over communication and interpretation can be deeply challenging and are best taken advantage of when they have been extensively planned and prepared for in advance. As scholar and activist George Lakey put it: “it is not repression that destroys a movement, it is repression plus lack of preparation.” Researchers have studied many avenues that can heighten the “paradox of repression” and increase the chances of backfire. While the specifics vary widely across cases, a few consistent patterns stand out.

Build Institutions and Trusted Networks: Movements that have strategized about how to respond to violence, and put in place structures to respond to it, are much more likely to successfully spark backfire. One study found that backfire was much more likely when movements had previously invested in external and internal institution-building, particularly in institutions that facilitated “communication channels and tactical adaptability.” Movements that had built strong networks throughout social groups were able to draw on those networks to mobilize in response to that event, and to mobilize participants to engage in follow-up tactics that could show their opposition to the violence while putting them at reduced risk of violence themselves.

Get the Word Out: One of the key things that organized institutional structures can do is ensure that violence is clearly communicated and that attempts to cover up violence fail. Social media has made government cover-ups more difficult, leading to protests spreading more rapidly once they’ve been initiated. Yet social media has also exacerbated misinformation and disinformation, reducing people’s trust in publicly communicated information. Building relationships of trust across partisan and identity lines before a violent event occurs may make it easier to diffuse information about violence when it occurs. Movements should strategize each step in the communication chain, from the original source of information about violence, to the ways in which it is transmitted, to how different audiences receive and react to it.

Maintain Nonviolent Discipline: By adopting and sticking to nonviolent tactics, even in the face of violence, activists can highlight the injustice and illegitimacy of violence towards them, preventing attempts by their opponents to devalue the targets of violence, for example by reinterpreting state violence as necessary law enforcement. A growing series of studies show over and over again that even modest levels of physical violence significantly reduces support for that movement. Movements can improve nonviolent discipline through training, choosing more dispersed tactics that reduce the chances of direct physical confrontation.

Focus on Overcoming Fear and Apathy: Backfire is a product of society’s interpretation of a violent event, not directly of the event itself. One part of shaping this interpretation is through highlighting violence’s injustice. A second is not allowing the violence to lead to paralyzing fear and apathy. In Zimbabwe, the Women of Zimbabwe Arise movement achieved this through building a culture where they “turned arrests into a celebration of successful resistance…beatings, arrests, and detentions became a badge of honor.” Leaders walked at the front of protests that were likely to face police brutality, and thousands courted arrest when a single protester was arrested.

While the situation in the United States differs from Zimbabwe, and the movement for democracy faces a variety of different forms of violence, from online harassment to threats from heavily armed conspiracy theorists the same underlying principle holds reinterpreting violence as a badge of honor and sign of the impact of resistance can keep core members of the movement motivated and defang the power of the violence turned against them. Violence towards the movement should never be accepted as just or inevitable, but neither should it be treated as something so horrific that it paralyzes a movement with fear. Instead, movements can empower their members to accept violence as a sign that their work is touching on critical and impactful issues and is even more important to continue.

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

THE VISTA: March 2022

WHAT WE’RE READING, WATCHING & LISTENING TO AT HORIZONS

In March, as the war in Ukraine took up so much of our news feeds, we have been inspired by the renewed attention to the need for a global democracy movement and the recognition of our interconnection in a shared fight against authoritarianism. The Horizons team remains committed to elevating the many voices of different disciplines and different perspectives who are committed to finding a way forward together towards a pluralistic, inclusive democracy in the United States and around the world. We have so much to learn from each other. So, in the words of the late and great Secretary Madeleine Albright, “let us buckle our boots, grab a cane if we need one, and march.”

Here are some of the recommendations the Horizons team is inspired to share for this month’s VISTA:

READING

Where Does American Democracy Go From Here?, New York Times Magazine

If we are going to come together to form a larger movement to work for democracy in the United States, we first need to find a common of understanding of the problems we are facing. In this article, six experts across the ideological spectrum discuss how worried we should be out democracy’s future in the US.

How to Resist Manipulation by Embracing All Your IdentitiesLearning to celebrate complex identities in ourselves and others could help make the world a better place, Greater Good Science Center

“We all contain multiple identities, with those identities vying for primacy in our heads…there is quite a bit of evidence that the world would be a better, more peaceful place if we could hold space for different identities in ourselves and in other people. How can we do that, while resisting efforts to elevate one over all the others in situations of conflict? This article provides some research-based tips.”

Civic Virus: Why Polarization is a Misdiagnosis, The Harwood Institute

Interesting take on the polarization debate. This report posits that Americans don’t really feel polarized or antagonistic toward one another. Rather, that we feel isolated and disoriented, like we are “trapped in a house of mirrors with no way out; in the grips of a perilous fight or flight response.” The authors offer recommendations for “a society that is breaking apart, to give people safe passage to hope” with concrete steps to help us move forward.

Transformative Organizing, Martha Mackenzie, Executive Director of the Civic Power Fund

Coinciding with the recent launch of European Community Organizing Network’s new report on ‘The Power of Organizing’ this article discusses a form of Transformative Organizing that enables the needed transformation of both the individual and society necessary for large scale systemic change.

A Future for All of Us; Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy, Race Forward

“Whether you are an advocate or artist or thinking about how to apply narrative or cultural strategy for the first time, this new report on Immigrant Narrative Strategies is designed to help you think and act at multiple levels —locally, regionally, and nationally.”

Releasing New Data on Civic Language Perceptions, Kristen Cambell, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE)

PACE partnered with Citizen Data to conduct a survey of 5,000 registered voters to understand people’s perceptions of the language associated with “civic engagement and democracy work.” They recently released their data on 21 commonly used terms, and are offering mini grants to support others to dig into the data to surface new findings, and create “bite-sized” content.

A Call to Connection, The Einhorn Collaborative, The Sacred Design Lab, and The Greater Good Science Center

The Einhorn Collaborative commissioned A Call to Connection to help leaders in multiple sectors better understand how vital human connection is to effectively address the challenges of our time. “Weaving together extensive scientific findings, insights from ancient wisdom traditions, beautiful stories, and concrete practices, this primer captures why and how human connection is a necessary and often missing ingredient in many of our efforts to ignite positive social change.”

The Pause, Newsletter of Pádraig Ó Tuama with On Being

Great newsletter to check out! This edition focuses on how even in times of conflict and upheaval, we can train our energy and attention on wonder not wounding; on awe, not war. Links to the recent re-airing of an interview with the esteemed astrophysicist Mario Livio, who spent 24 years working at the Space Telescope Science Institute of the Hubble Telescope. Shares his views of how the languages of art, science, and wonder can open up the human condition to the magnitude of the fact that we are here at all.

WATCHING

The Neuroscience of Trauma and Chronic Stress, Beyond Conflict

As a part of the March Brain Awareness Week of the Dana Foundation, you can re-watch this great panel discussion on how trauma and chronic stress impact the brain, including Vivian Khedari DePierroMike Niconchuk and moderated by Sloka Iyengar.

Shifting Mindsets to Shift Development Systems, Laurel Patterson, Head SDG Integration, UNDP

The UNDP describes a new approach to systems change with a focus on inner transformation, highlighting the fact that the ways social divisions, short-termism and siloed ways of responding to interconnected issues are no longer working. They are partnering with the Presencing Institute to help open new spaces to connect and make sense of what we’re all seeing and experiencing. Embedded in the article is a link to a series of videos on “awareness-based collective action

Reframing History: A Conversation at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

You can re-watch the launch of the report on Reframing History, including a panel of historians and museum curators, including Clint Smith author of How the Word is Passed  and the head of the Hard Histories program at Johns Hopkins who shared the inspiring tagline: “History tells us how we got here. Hard Histories show us a way forward.”

LISTENING

How to Change the World, Podcast: Hidden Brain

Great interview highlighting the research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan on why nonviolent civil resistance works. “Pop culture and conventional history often teach us that violence is the most effective way to produce change. But is that common assumption actually true?”

Probing the Past: How Companies can Address Historical Transgressions, Podcast: The Crux

In this episode Dr. Sarah Federman discusses why she feels every Fortune 500 company should hire a historian an how understanding the past contributes to today’s DEI efforts and the need to accept responsibility, understand the past and respond meaningfully.

Cynefin, Sense Making & Complexity, Podcast: The Deep Dive

Conversation with Dave Snowden, creator of the Cynefin Framework about a range of social change issues, ways of solving complex problems and sensemaking.

INTERESTING TWEETS

The recent Arnold Schwarzenegger video appealing to Russians was given a lot of attention on social media. This is an overview of a social science study on the real persuasive impact of his messages given our polarized context.

Overview of new academic paper on how that parties to a conflict systematically mis-predict our counterparts emotions, specifically feelings of self-threat.

Reflections on Pastor Andy Stanley’s recent remarks to the Georgia House of Representatives. “Do you love the state of Georgia more than you love your party? If not, maybe you should do something else. Disagreement is always going to be there. Disunity is a choice.”

Great narrative advice on why it’s important to NOT amplify the messages you want people to forget.

Western States Center breaks down the recently released Southern Poverty Law Center’s Annual Year in Hate and Extremism Report.

THE VISTA: January 2022

WHAT WE’RE READING, WATCHING & LISTENING TO AT HORIZONS 

There are so many wonderful insights and ideas that inspire us at The Horizons Project, helping to make sense of what’s happening, what’s needed, what’s possible and ways of working within a complex system. Once a month we share just a sampling of the breadth of resources, tools, reflections, and diverse perspectives that we hope will offer you some food for thought as well.

READING

Coordinates of Speculative Solidarity

By: Barbara Adams as part of UNHCR’s Project Unsung

“Solidarity has a speculative character and is fundamentally a horizontal activity with its focus on liberation, justice, and the creative processes of world- and future-building—projects that are never complete. The horizon is always present in the landscape, reminding us that there are things beyond what is visible from a particular location. As a coordinate central to perspective and orientation, the horizon is vital to successful navigation. As we move toward the horizon it remains “over there,” showing us that there are limits to what we can know in advance. However, rather than frustrating our efforts, horizons represent possibilities.”

The Relational Work of Systems Change

By: Katherine Milligan, Juanity Zerda and John Kania at the Collective Change Lab

“People who work with collective impact efforts are all actors in the systems they are trying to change, and that change must begin from within. The process starts with examining biases, assumptions, and blind spots; reckoning with privilege and our role in perpetuating inequities; and creating the inner capacity to let go of being in control. But inner change is also a relational and iterative process: The individual shifts the collective, the collective shifts the individual, and on and on it goes. That interplay is what allows us to generate insight, create opportunities, and see the potential for transformation.”

6 Key Practices for Sensemaking

By: David McLean on LinkedIn

This post highlights the work of Harold Jarche and is chock full of tips on how to deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity.

More Common Sense, Less Ideology: Modern Communications Lessons from the Critical Race Theory Debates

By: Nat Kendall-Taylor at Frameworks Institute

“Being smart and right is getting in the way of moving hearts and minds towards positive social change…Speaking to what people are worried about resonates, while rhetorical quips and barbs make it seem like communicators don’t get the point, or worse, that they don’t care. Instead of defending the definition of Critical Race Theory, communicators could have pivoted to discussions about the importance of having an education system that prepares children for the world they will inherit, or of the role of having children realize their potential for the future prosperity of our country.”

After the Tide: Critical Race Theory in 2021

By: Baratunde Thurston on Puck

“So, I want us to stop talking about ‘critical race theory’ and start talking about what it means to love this country. I want us to stop burying our heads when someone shares an unflattering truth and instead embrace the discomfort and recognize it as a sign of growth. I want us to stop talking about ‘freedom’ as if it means denying the truth and instead remember that living a lie is what holds us captive, and the truth is what sets us free. I’m ready to get to the part of the American story where we have processed our pain and used it to forge a stronger nation, where we can heal from our historic traumas and focus our energies on building that ever-elusive multi-racial democracy where everyone feels like they belong. But we cannot heal from injuries we do not acknowledge. We cannot grow from pain we refuse to feel. Let’s know America. Let’s love America. Let’s grow America.”

To Tackle Racial Justice, Organizing Must Change

By: Daniel Martinez HoSang, LeeAnne Hall and Libero Della Piana in The Forge 

This provocative read names how internal conflicts can show up within racial justice movements and offers concrete advice on creating an “organizational culture with more calling-in than calling-out.”

Just Look Up: 10 Strategies to Defeat Authoritarianism

By: Deepak Bhargava and Harry Hanbury

“The gravity of the threat demands a reorientation of energy from organizations and individuals to prioritize the fight to preserve democracy.  Unless it is addressed, there is little prospect of progress on other issues in the years to come. The fate of each progressive issue and constituency is now bound together.  We might even imagine a practice of “tithing for democracy” — finding a way for all of us, whatever our role and work, to devote a significant portion of our time to address the democracy crisis, which has become the paramount issue of our time. We may each make different kinds of contributions, but there’s no way to honorably keep on with business as usual in the face of the current crisis. We’ll explore a wide variety of possible approaches with the understanding that there’s no silver bullet or quick fix for such a deep-rooted problem.”

Strengthening Local Government Against Bigoted and Anti-Democracy Movements

The Western States Center released a new resource for Local Governments on how to counter groups working to undermine democracy and counter bigoted political violence. “Local leaders have the power to confront hate and bigotry. Many have shown bravery and commitment in working to counter these dangerous forces in their communities….we hope these recommendations provide one more tool to support these critical efforts.”

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer was recently released with the study results of levels of trust in business, governments, NGOs and media. Across every issue, and by huge margins, people indicated they want more business engagement and accountability in responding to societal problems, especially climate change and rising inequality.

LISTENING

Podcast Undistracted: “This Big Old Lie”

The author of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper TogetherHeather McGhee sits down with host Brittany Packnett Cunningham to explain her research, the “hypnotic racial story” fueling American injustice, and how we can do better.

Podcast Scholars Strategy Network: Reflecting on Two Years of Trauma

Dr. Maurice Stevens, from Ohio State University, reflects on how Americans react and respond to traumatic events both as individuals as groups, and on how we can better connect amidst the current chaos.

Fear and Scapegoating in the Time of Pandemics 

A podcast interview with Yale Professor Nicholas Christakis, director of the Human Nature Lab, on the connection between pandemics and our need to assign blame.

Podcast StoryCorps: One Small Step

In this episode, StoryCorps shares examples of people sitting down and talking about what shapes their beliefs and what shapes us as humans. StoryCorps founder Dave Isay describes what he envisions for this new initiative, One Small Step.

Reading of “Let Them Not Say”

If you like poetry, you’ll enjoy this reading by Krista Tippet of Jane Hirshfield’s poem “Let Them Not Say” which is so powerful and relevant even though she wrote it a couple years ago.

Let them not say:     we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say:     we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say:     they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say:     it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say:     they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something:

A kerosene beauty.
It burned.

Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.

WATCHING

Unraveling Biases in the Brain

By: Dr. Emily Falk and Dr. Emile Bruneau at TEDxPenn

“How can we unravel the conflicting biases in our brain to work towards a more just and peaceful world? In this talk, Dr. Emily Falk honors Dr. Emile Bruneau’s work at Penn’s Neuroscience & Conflict lab, describing the opportunity to look closer into our unconscious biases, question them, and face discomfort to make a change in our communities and beyond.”

Dialogue Lab: America 

This documentary by Ideas Institute that brings together twelve Americans from across the ideological spectrum to participate in a dialogue experiment on political polarization. It’s an hour long and “tracks each participant as they voice their political opinions, come face to face with those holding different views, and, perhaps, forge a path to mutual understanding.” You can watch the trailer here, and watch the movie from their website.

Hope-Based Communications for Human Rights Activists

By: Thomas Coombes at TEDxMagdeburg

Coombes reflects on how “social change activists are very good at talking about what they are against, but less good at selling the change they want to see to the wider public.”

INTERESTING TWEETS

Good vs. Toxic Polarization: Insights from Activists and Peacebuilders

Polarizing narratives are key tools of nonviolent mobilization and social justice activism. But today, deep-seated polarization, exacerbated by a growing faction that rejects basic democratic norms and practices, threatens the foundations of our democracy. Differentiating between healthy and toxic polarization is vital among activists and peacebuilders to inform and align our strategies. What aspects of polarization are healthy and normal in a democratic society, and when can this polarization tip over into toxic conditions?

Click here to watch the whole event

In this recent Horizons Project event, hosted by the TRUST Network in partnership with the Alliance for Peacebuilding and Humanity United, we explored these questions with scholars, activists, and peacebuilders.

Watch the full event below!

Identifying Polarization

Although fundamental questions about the nature of US democracy (and whose voices count) date back centuries, since the 1960s, we have seen a trajectory of increasing political polarization. Today, our political affiliation informs most of our basic decision-making processes. According to Peter T. Coleman, professor at Columbia University and author of The Way Out, political polarization impacts us to the point of geographic sorting both in physical and online spaces. In the US, voters segregate into different communities, which creates physical and psycho-social structures that maintain this state.

In the social sciences, political polarization can be identified in many different forms.

Affective polarization, or the feeling of warmth we feel towards our in-group and contempt we feel towards the other side;

Ideological polarization, or how our beliefs and values around certain issues diverge;

Perceptual polarization, or the degree to which you view the other side as extreme compared to your own.

Toxic polarization exists as a state of intense, chronic polarization – where there are high levels of contempt for a person’s outgroup and love for one’s own side. It can create ideological rifts, where actors see the other side as an enemy with irreconcilable differences. However, the levels of toxic polarization we are experiencing today can arguably be considered a good thing. Coleman argues that after major disruptions to the status quo, we are more susceptible to change.

“You see an event like – COVID-19 and racial injustice in America and the Trump administration and a variety of things – there’s tremendous instability,” Coleman said. “Under certain political conditions, [this] can lead to dramatic, positive change.”

Tabitha Moore, Vermont racial justice advocate finds that healthy polarization can be a vital tool for social justice organizing.

“Polarization can be a really wonderful tool to identify where everybody falls on a continuum as far as belief in particular human rights,” Moore said. “Not necessarily with us or against us, but how do you promote or inhibit people being… able to get their basic needs met?”

After the murder of George Floyd, Moore found that polarization helped to mobilize people around the issue of police violence, but also to critically examine how racism impacts public health.

“People really started to pay attention to the ways that racism is impacting public health, so here in Vermont, that’s been used as a way to create more movement around declaring racism to be a public health crisis, which would allow for more access to resources to deal with and dismantle it from a systemic perspective.”

In activist spaces, polarization serves as a tool for mobilization within a community in order to force systemic change.

“People are using this opportunity to draw that line in the sand and say, ‘do you stand for this?’ Whether it’s pushing legislators and lawmakers to take that stand and be honest and clear about where they are, it can be used for good,” Moore said.

When Toxic Polarization Limits Activists’ Work

The levels of polarization we are experiencing today are not necessarily the problem that needs solving. However, in the US, we lack the structures to prevent toxic polarization. A study by Predictwise in 2018 found that in 3,000 counties across America, one of the main predictors of political tolerance and intolerance, was the degree to which those communities had crosscutting structures between red and blue voters – spaces like sports teams, labor unions, workplaces, where people have to live and grow together with voters different from themselves.

Toxic polarization can be the symptom of a larger problem. “I always come back to Audre Lorde’s saying that the Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house because what I see happening is that we’re using toxic polarization to try to solve the problem,” Moore said. “When we get a small piece of the pie or a piece of the puzzle or a seat at the table, what’s happening is that there are so many people who are being harmed that we have to determine who gets a seat at that table and who’s going to be there to make the decisions.”

In activist spaces, toxic polarization can prevent us from breaking down barriers and humanizing each other. They can also uphold siloes, keeping existing members of activist movements from voicing different views, given the pressure to adhere to within-group expectations.

“When I think about people who have middle of the road views or are feeling a little lost in all of it, what I often hear is that they’re afraid that if they speak up in one way that they will be shamed in the end, and so they remain silent,” Moore said.

How Do We Humanize the Other?

With increases in toxic polarization comes decreases in social identity complexity. Our different group memberships and identities – whether political, racial, or religious – are much more likely to line up, and in the process, we become less tolerant of members of outgroups. Bridging the divide calls us to acknowledge the complexity of our own belief systems and complicate our understandings of other people.

“If I happen to hold identities that are contradictory…the more I’m aware of those, the more I give the other side some slack or the more I can take different perspectives because I’m used to living in that space,” Coleman said. “It’s about spending time with people and getting to know them that matters, but that is another way to complicate your understanding of them, of yourself and the issues.”

“When we can start to create a multi-dimensional model for understanding, that’s when people might be able to start understanding complexity. When I look at policies and governance in this world, it is very much a linear thing, so how do we even begin to conceptualize a government framework that is nonlinear?” Moore said. “It becomes really difficult for the individual to conceptualize themselves or anybody else as nonlinear or non-complex…it’s when we start to think outside of the bounds of what we set up as our societal parameters for what’s acceptable and allowable. That’s when we can get to complex thinking.”

Bridge-Building and Moving Forward

Patterns of toxic polarization are difficult to break. They resist change and cannot be solved by dialogue alone. Coleman emphasizes the value of utilizing community-based structures, where people live and work together, to complement bridge-building efforts. In movement spaces, activists build bridges and break down barriers by moving beyond talk.

“A basic staple that we in our field of conflict resolution do, which is to sit down and talk to people, is sometimes inefficient and ineffective. In fact, what some evidence is suggesting is that what we really need to do is move together, we need to get up and move.” Coleman said. “I think activists understand this because activists march together in unison, and there is something about the simple act of doing that which synchronizes people neurologically and synchronizes them emotionally. It elicits more cooperation. We know that, yet we still try to sit people down and have these conversations, which most of the time is useful, but not under these conditions.”

“I think the answer does not lie in adjusting our ideals to bring them in line with our practices. We should be working on bringing our practice more in line with our ideals.”

Toxic polarization is not sustainable, but more importantly, it is the symptom of large-scale, structural problems.

“Toxic polarization is a tool of not just white supremacy, but all forms of supremacy. So as long as we continue to use these tools, the Master’s tools are not going to dismantle the Master’s house,” Moore said. “We need to look at indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world. We need to look at the things that existed for 10,000 or however many thousands of years that were actually successful and see if, maybe, that could put a dent in it.”

MAPPING THE ECOSYSTEM OF SOCIAL CHANGE

This overview was created after a convening of organizations and networks who are endeavoring to map the larger “ecosystem of social change,” including social justice, bridge-building, and democracy organizations, practitioners, and organizers. This is not an exhaustive list of mapping efforts but rather a working document that we intend to periodically update as we learn of more efforts and seek to make sense of the diverse lenses they provide to our understanding of the ecosystem. If you have a map or know of a map that is not listed below but should be please email us at [email protected].

Democracy Strengthening

  • Bridge Alliance: Bridge Alliance created their Democracy Field Overview which combines civic engagement, electoral reform, policy and issues work of the many unique organizations and funders working within the political and civic reform sectors. It is a useful tool for those in the democracy field to learn about complementary work.
  • Citizen Connect: Citizen Connect is a website with many organizations from the bridging field & democracy spaces – a place where ordinary citizens can go to find out what’s going on and how to get engaged. The website currently has 600+ organizations and has the potential to become a coordinating space for larger ecosystem efforts.
  • Critical Connections Forum: CCF sought to get to know the democracy landscape (including 300+ different organizations). CCF sought to get to know the democracy landscape, and includes 300+ different organizations. They identified several areas in which to dig deeper: Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT), bridging, bottom-up political organizing, and participatory governance. They are making sense of the democracy “movement of movements” and identifying where critical connections have not yet been made. They have connected with others through the Co-Intelligence Institute. They’re largely focused on building baseline maps of the current state of relationships of organizations. Caleb from CCF authored Organizing for collective impact: The making of a mass pro-democracy movement which drew on this map.
  • Democracy Funders Network: The Democracy Funders Network (DFN) is a cross-ideological learning and action community that helps new and existing funders better understand and respond to the long-term challenges facing U.S. democracy. DFN takes a big-picture view of the challenges facing American democracy and the approaches to solving them. They believe that rather than one silver bullet that will enable American democracy to thrive over the next fifty years and beyond, many approaches are necessary to sustain democracy over the long-term. In addition to working with their diverse network of partners, they frequently release resources such as: “Preventing & Addressing Political Violence in 2022,” “A Funder’s Guide to Combatting Disinformation,” and “Non-Partisan Pooled Funds: Elections Edition.” Visit https://www.democracyfundersnetwork.org to learn more.
  • FixUS: FixUS has developed their Landscape Review to curate the many existing organizations devoted to improving the state of US democracy through political, economic, cultural, and other changes.
  • Mapping American Social Movements: This project produces and displays free interactive maps showing the historical geography of dozens of social movements that have influenced American life and politics since the late 19th century, including radical movements, civil rights movements, labor movements, women’s movements, and more. This project allows us to see where social movements were active and where not, helping us better understand patterns of influence and endurance.
  • SNF Agora Institute: Mapping the Modern Agora integrates big data on civil society organizations to map the modern agora at scale. Specifically, it creates a comprehensive map of the civic life in US communities, develops a more coherent classification scheme for civil society, and develops new lines of research and inquiry that can emerge from creating a picture of the whole. They aspire to map not only the geographic aspects of civil society, but also the digital ones. And they hope is that this can become a tool for researchers and practitioners to better understand, make sense of, and invest in strengthening civic spaces in modern democracies.
  • Uphold Our Democracy: Uphold Our Democracy is currently mapping the US democracy space to inform next steps and a future strategy for the informal coalition that came together in 2020. They are looking at mapping the bridgers, social justice movement leaders, people working on democracy reform efforts, and then folks in the litigation space. They’ve also identified two periphery groups: funders and other the core members of the Uphold Our Democracy Coalition, as it was initially convened. Uphold did work on an initial mapping of organizations and training resources in 2020 that is publicly available here. Relatedly, there is the Global Democracy Coalition. This coalition is run by International Idea and Counterpart International and is very focused on The Summit for Democracy.

Nonviolent Action Campaigns

  • Crowd Counting Consortium: The CCC has been tracking nonviolent protest activity across the US since January 2017 (demonstrations, rallies, including things like campaign rallies, strikes and other labor actions and nonviolent direct actions.) It’s a large database of geo-coded events including information such as participating organizations, crowd size, participant claims, protest reasons, protester tactics, police and counter protester responses, and issue tags. Data is publicly available via a GitHub repository where compiled versions of the data are updated on a weekly basis. It’s attempting to make available data sets that scholars can use to identify and analyze causes and consequences of trends within the United States. CCC has also worked with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).
  • The Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO): The NAVCO Data Project is a multi-level data collection effort that catalogues major nonviolent and violent resistance campaigns seeking government overthrows or territorial independence around the globe from 1900–2014.

Polarization/Bridgebuilding

  • Divided We Fall: Divided We Fall has created an ecosystem map of the bridge-building community as part of their Framework for the Bridge Building Ecosystem. They see this effort as a potential first step toward growing participation and collaboration across this ecosystem. This guide contains over 200 organizations that work on at least one of the following topics: Dialogue and Engagement, Youth and University, Advocacy and Research, Media and Journalism, and Technology.

Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation

  • Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth: RJOY is engaged with a few mapping initiatives, particularly focused on truth telling, racial healing, and reparations initiatives in the United States. Much of their work is focused on how to weave these networks, identifying those who are under the radar or on the margins and those who are at the center of the work. Based on their connections, RJOY seeks to bring folks closer together to build relationships. By really centering their work on relationships, they seek to support the sustainability of the network to be able to weave itself. These efforts have led to the extension of the Iowa City Truth Telling Commission and a few other initiatives.
  • The Bridging Divides Initiative: In partnership with the Truth Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Movement BDI has mapped TRHT Movement Organizations and Transitional Justice Initiatives in the United States, overlaying some of those members with local government-led TRHT initiatives (collected by the New England School of Law), and/or with some other efforts affiliated with George Mason University’s Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation.

Violence Prevention/De-Escalation

  • Over Zero: Over Zero has been mapping groups that are focused on preventing and addressing political violence (many of whom don’t do that as their primary purpose but are playing a major role). They interviewed 50+ civil society groups in the US (state and national) and 12 international experts with experience in over 120 countries to develop this map and observed several different forums and roundtables over time. The team is in the process of finalizing a write-up and visuals.
  • Peace Direct: Peace Direct’s primary purpose for mapping is to recognize local peace builders who are oftentimes doing work but are simply not recognized. On Martin Luther King Day in 2019 they mapped US peacebuilding. They have mapped about 200 racial justice efforts across this country—though some call it different things (e.g., “legal defense,” “water protection,” “peacebuilding with a racial focus,” or leaving out the word “peace” all together). Their primary audience are local organizations, and they seek to build networks through their Local Action Fund (LAF).
  • The Bridging Divides Initiative: The Bridging Divides Initiative started as a mapping effort to try and understand both risk and resilience at a local level and make connections between them. BDI worked with ACLED to start their US-based coding, and they have a visualization of that data, also overlapping with some of the organizational data they compile. They often combine other types of event data around political violence and demonstrations, including about 12 different indicators to look at risk at a county level (specifically risk of political violence and democratic disruption.) This is displayed on a heatmap of the US and updated every two months. They collaborate with the Carter Center and some researchers at GW on this effort. They also work with Thought Partnerships Hub.One of their initial (and now dormant) efforts was a map of organizations that do bridging work that is available on their website. This bridging map serves as a template to show a lot of other different bridging efforts. In the last year they also started looking at threats and harassment of local officials together with the Anti-Defamation League and now the National League of Cities. They are planning to be able to share some initial details on that as early as October. Because of the sensitivity of the information, this data would be available by request-only. They developed a de-escalation directory, organizations that are offering de-escalation or bystander intervention training and/or Training of Trainers.

Violent Extremism

  • The Southern Poverty Law Center: The SPLC has mapped hate across the US and the maps can be filtered by ideology and state. The data is also available for download. Additionally, SPLC has mapped Confederate monuments and has done snapshots like a map shows flyers and banners that have been displayed by far right hate groups. The Western States Center is a key partner of the SPLC.
  • The Khalifa Ihler Institute: has mapped the Proud Boys and hate in general. Their founder Bjørn Ihler has been involved in a number of mapping initiatives. Specifically, he’s collaborated with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation to create Antifascist Europe to monitor the development and transnational networks of far-right and right-wing populist parties as well as white supremacist, neo-Nazi and fascist groups.

Facilitating and Training in Cross-Sector Movements: Turbo-Charging Efforts for Coordination and Collaboration

On September 14, 2022, The Horizons Project hosted a webinar to bring together movement trainers, facilitators, and organizers to discuss the current state of movement-building support in the US and how training and convening spaces could be better coordinated and envisioned more creatively to build a broad-based pro-democracy movement to counter the rising authoritarian threat.

Maria Stephan’s opening remarks are below.

“Hello everyone and welcome to today’s discussion on Facilitating and Training in Cross-Sector Movements: Turbo-Charging Efforts for Coordination and Collaboration. Today we’ll be speaking with a distinguished group of panelists about the current state of movement-building support in the US, and how training and convening spaces could be envisioned more creatively to support a broad-based front or movement to counter the rising authoritarian threats and to build a democracy that works for all Americans. While our conversation today will be focused on the US, we think there is significant cross-border import and relevance.

Why are we having this conversation now? Like most or all of you in this room, Horizons is deeply concerned about the state of US democracy, which was formally classified as “backsliding” last year by the Stockholm-based International IDEA. We’re concerned about the alarming rise of political violence and extreme us vs. them politics. This is not our first experience with authoritarianism in the US, however: the system of Jim Crow following the end of the Reconstruction period was one of the most virulent and violent forms of single-party rule. While the January 6th 2021 attempted insurrection was a dramatic reminder that “it can happen here” (to cite Sinclair Lewis, who wrote about rising fascism in the US in the 1930s), the rise in political violence (mostly but not exclusively from far-right groups) and state and local efforts to undermine free & fair elections are worrisome no matter which issues we care about the most – whether that be climate, health care, workers’ rights, or many others.

At the same time, we know that the only way that we have ever gotten closer to freedom & justice for all in the US, and what plenty of research has shown to be the strongest bulwark against authoritarianism globally, has been powerful, broad-based coalitions and movements capable of mobilizing people across difference. The history of USA is in many ways the history of movements – to achieve independence from colonial rule, to abolish slavery, to make suffrage truly universal, to expand civil and political rights for all. These movements have relied on a combination of dialogue and nonviolent action to build bridges, build power, and build belonging.

Training and facilitation are essential to building movement strength and sustainability. They have played a critical role in pro-democracy movements in the US (including the Civil Rights movement), the Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, and countless other places. Members of our panel have written extensively on this topic.

At Horizons we believe that both dialogue and direct action, organization, and mobilization, blocking harm and building democratic abundance, are necessary to overcome the divide and rule tactics that endemic to the Authoritarian Playbook.

To help shed light on the roles played by movement training and facilitation in both upholding and reimagining US democracy, we will now turn to a very talented and accomplished group of speakers. Let me introduce them briefly.

  • Ivan Marovic is the Director of Field Education and Applied Research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. Since playing a leading role in Otpor, a youth movement which helped bring down Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, Ivan has become one of the leading educators in the field of strategic nonviolent conflict.
  • Nadine Bloch is the Training Director at Beautiful Trouble, a global network of organizers, artists, trainers, and writers where Nadine’s work explores the potent intersection of art, movements, and politics.
  • Jake Waxman is an advisory board member and senior trainer with the Leading Change Network. He has led over 200 workshops and trained over 1,500 coaches and 15,000 participants in the craft of Public Narrative and Leadership, Organizing, and Action.
  • Carlos Saavedra has been active in the immigrant rights movement for the last 20 years building and co-founding organizations for immigrant students and workers. Since founding the Ayni Institute in 2013, he has been coaching and training organizers and leaders in movement building.
  • Reverend Stephen A. Green is an activist and pastor who leads with radical love in action through his ministry at the St. Luke AME Church in Harlem, and as Chair of Faith for Black Lives, a faith-based social justice organization. He is also the creator and host of the podcast, “Sacred Desk with Rev. Stephen A. Green,” which features conversations with thought leaders and change agents focused on the latest headlines.”