THE VISTA: April 2024

During the month of April, the Horizons team has been inspired by all the analysis and resources being put out to support effective movement building. Check out this research by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the importance of pro-democracy movements crossing ideological divides to challenge illiberal leaders who continue to degrade democracy around the world. You can read guidance like this one from Forward Together on making movements irresistible through (healthy) partnerships with artists; the particular role that women are playing within pro-democracy movement building in the United States; recommendations for intermediary funds that come from movements to help philanthropy reduce barriers to funding movements directly; and, don’t miss this important report about the relationship between movement building and philanthropic spaces, dealing with uncertainty and the value of having uncomfortable conversations. Also, the Feminist Peace Summit is kicking off in May and registration is open!

At Horizons, we continue to reflect on the relationship between Race and Democracy, and appreciated this recent piece on the fact that a multiracial democracy in the United States requires racial repair. Check out our second Sensemaking with Horizons Video interview with Jeanine Abrams McLean, the President of Fair Count probing the distinctions between “pro-democracy” work and/or “racial justice” work. And you can re-watch Chief Organizer, Maria Stephan’s presentation on the critical struggle for multi-racial democracy in the US and globally at a recent Forum at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.

Please enjoy some of the other resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to in April:

READING

Calling People Forward Instead of Out: Ten Essential Steps
by Justin Michael Williams and Shelly Tygielski

“Calling forward is a model of communication that [the authors] coined several years ago that flips the idea of “calling out” and “calling in” on its head, turning it into something more effective for bringing people together and ending racism. While “calling out” or “calling in” is fighting against what someone did wrong, calling forward is an invitation to be something greater. While calling out/in is fighting against what we hate, calling forward is building upon what we love. Calling forward is inviting people into a greater state of integration and evolution. Calling forward opens the door to real transformation, and we’ve found that the outcome—although not always immediate—is often surprising… Use the “Ten Essential Steps to Calling Forward” the next time you need to have a difficult conversation—specifically, when you want to address someone having contributed to the perpetuation of prejudice, discrimination, racism, or othering. Stand in the center of what you believe: that racism can and will end, and that you yourself have the power to end it. Calling forward is a skill we all have the capacity to learn. It starts with you.”

Communication is Sacred by Nora Bateson: Why change happens in the spaces between us
by Alexander Beiner and Nora Bateson

“How do you think about change if not in linear strategies? You tend to the relationships…The trap of trying to confront fascism is that it grows stronger with polarity, and the problem with not confronting fascism is that it grows stronger when it is not met with resistance. So, what can be done? Rallying against a group that believes themselves to be superior further ignites a sense of righteousness to their polarity. But without counteraction the momentum of the hateful cause grows deeper and wider into communities, demanding more loyalty, and more exclusion. Most attempts to stop fascism seem only to generate it…when any aspect of a living system is torn from its contextual relationships, it can then be exploited. How a description is made of a person, a family, a community, a culture, or an ecosystem –matters. Does the description hold the complexity, or does the description sever the relational connections? The more relational, contextual understanding there is, the less likely polarities are to take over.” 

Ministry of Imagination
by Rob Hopkins (Harvested from guests from the From What If to What’s Next podcast.)

“The rise of the far-right around the world is profoundly troubling, underpinned as it is by dystopian visions of the future and the need for ‘strong’ leaders to protect us from those futures. But what would a Manifesto look like that was based on a positive vision of the future, one that is appropriately ambitious to the scale of the challenges the world is facing while at the same time bold, imaginative and audacious? …. the failure of [movements] to set out bold visions of the future has left the space for the far right to fill, and that getting better at bringing positive futures alive in people’s imaginations is vital.” You can download the Manifesto here.

WATCHING

The Politics of Disavowal: What Syria Can Tell Us about American Authoritarianism
The Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University

“Can the survival of Bashar al-Asad’s regime in Syria offer insights into emerging forms of authoritarianism in the West? And what might the Syrian example suggest about how authoritarian leaders exploit digital media to create uncertainty, political impasses, and fractures among their citizens? In this Crown Seminar, Lisa Wedeen, in conversation with Daniel Neep, draws on the findings of her book, “Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria,” to reflect on lessons from the Syrian experience for the current attractions of authoritarianism in the United States.

Mapping the Future. The Role of Art in Social Change
The Skoll World Forum

“Art is a powerful tool for social change. It can challenge norms, foster empathy, and even spark movements. [During this session at the recent Skoll World Forum, the panel] explored how art can also serve as a wayfinding tool to unveil challenges, reflect progress, and chart a course toward a collective future we may not have envisioned yet. Whether you’re an artist or simply looking to expand your tool kit toward social change, check out this visually rich session to immerse yourself in the role art plays in mapping the future, navigating complex challenges, and driving social change.” You can watch all of the great sessions from the 2024 Skoll World Forum that are now available on their YouTube channel.

Disarming disinformation: how leading international editors are responding to information pollution
International Journalism Festival

You can re-watch this panel discussion that presents important insights from the new global research project Disarming Disinformation, the result of researchers embedded in multiple international newsrooms to study their responses to information pollution in the context of looming elections. “2024 is recognised as [a] pivotal year for democracy in dozens of countries and the function of independent journalism in securing and popularising facts, and scrutinsing elections, is pivotal…The Disarming Disinformation project is studying editorial responses to disinformation anchored in five countries: the US, the Philippines, Brazil, South Africa and Georgia. Lead researcher Julie Posetti is joined by four editors participating in the project to discuss their insights and experiences, among them is Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa, who has warned that “In 2024, democracy could fall off a cliff.” Organized in association with the International Center for Journalists.

LISTENING TO

Our Story of Nature, From Rupture to Reconnection
Outrage + Optimism podcast

As we celebrated Earth Day this month, enjoy this unedited conversation with award-winning Krista Tippett, host of On Being. “Take a moment to relax and immerse yourself in this expansive and inspiring dialogue. Krista opens up about her personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences with nature, offering a fresh perspective that’s sure to leave a lasting impact. Get ready to see the natural world in a whole new light after tuning in.”

Polarisation, Political Violence and the U.S. Elections
Ripple Effect podcast by the International Crisis Group

“In this episode [Rachel Kleinfeld], senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, talks about the state of U.S. democracy and the risk of political violence as the U.S. heads toward the November elections. During the conversation, they break down how we should understand polarization in U.S. society. [They] assess the potential risk factors that could contribute to political violence in the run-up and aftermath of the November elections and how they compare to the 2020 elections…They also talk about what politicians on both sides of the aisle can do to mitigate the risk of political violence in the near term.” You can also read a new article from Rachel on Democratization and De-escalation here.

Can “The Commons” Bring Philanthropy Together?
Keeping PACE with Kristen podcast

Kristen Cambell interviews Drew Lindsay of The Chronicle of Philanthropy about the launch of The Commons, a digital space to explore how America’s nonprofits and foundations are working to heal the nation’s divides and build community. They are “looking at how the country is splintered along political lines but also by income, race, geography, culture, and more — division that can threaten progress and even the nation’s stability. The new project is named The Commons to reflect their goal to create a home where people come together to learn, share ideas, and gain new perspective.”

POP CULTURE CORNER

Civil War is Coming to America
by Kristen Grimm

Have you seen the new movie Civil War by writer/director Alex Garland? Check out this article by Kristen at Spitfire Strategies. “…see it for yourself so that when you are talking about it, you know what you are talking about. Mind you, many of the people you may talk about this with may or may not have done the same, relying on social media posts to fuel their opinions.” Kristen offers some very helpful advice about how to engage with this movie and shape the conversation it spurs. Most importantly she recommends offering concrete actions to avoid this future reality with some links to organizations and resources.

THE VISTA: March 2024

In March, we celebrate the “radical roots” of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month in the US. Many are reflecting that 2024 is a big year for women and democracy around the world, and find inspiration in the stories and lessons of women mobilizing within democracy movements globally. It’s important to make the linkages between anti-feminism and anti-democratic developments as outlined in this new report on Strongmen and Violence. We appreciate this School of International Futures’ honoring of the archetypal heroine’s journey both in the past and those blazing a new future. And, don’t miss the recently released Feminist Influencing Basket of Resources from Oxfam that offers practical tools based in radical healing, love, and care to shift dominant narratives and strengthen our movements. If you didn’t get to attend in person or virtually, you can watch Maria J. Stephan, Horizons’ Chief Organizer’s recent presentation at MWEG’s (Mormon Women for Ethical Government) national conference on Women Power: How Nonviolent Action Can Build Just and Peaceful Democracies.

We continue to be inspired by organizations like Keseb helping us learn from global pro-democracy champions, especially when US organizers and their counterparts come together to reflect on shared challenges such as this great overview of key insights from Hungary. Recognizing why the far right in the US is drawn to anti-democratic leaders like Viktor Orban is important, and as Rachel Kleinfeld recently wrote, we must continue to connect the dots on how and why civic space is closing in the US and around the world. Horizons believes it’s also important to draw lessons from the past, for example successful efforts to fight Nazi disinformation campaigns in the UK as we continue to struggle with the information environment described by Secretary Blinken in his remarks at the third Summit for Democracy in South Korea this month.

Finally, Horizons continues to be seized with the dampening effects of threats and political violence on US democracy in this election cycle and beyond, and we are collaborating closely with the 22nd Century Initiative, Hardy Merriman, and many other partners to develop a training program focused on how communities can mobilize and make threats of PV backfire against perpetrators. (Congratulations to 22CI on their new website which is choc-full of wonderful resources that you should check out). Using threats and intimidation tactics is a key part of the Authoritarian Playbook, so you don’t want to miss the Violence and Democracy Impact Tracker from Protect Democracy and the SNF Agora Institute that calculates the impact of political violence on eight distinct pillars of democracy in the United States. Also, check out the American Autocracy Threat Tracker from Just Security.

Finally, you can hear more from us in this short video about why Horizons created a new Director role for Race and Democracy; read our recent publication on the need to Defend Democracy by Expanding the Agenda; and check out Maria’s article in Sojourners magazine that is now cross-posted on our website, Can Multiracial Democracy Survive?

Enjoy these additional resources that we are reading, watching, and listening to:

READING

Collective Healing for Systems Change: The Evolving Conversation
by Kerry Graham, Collective Change Lab

In 2023, the Collective Change Lab and the Wellbeing Project co-hosted a series of webinars on trauma healing and systems change. Renowned social change leaders shared their perspectives on: Why we as a sector need to integrate a trauma-lens into how we see and interpret the “conditions holding problems in place” as well as how we design solutions; why it’s important to shift the current focus on individual trauma to a much wider frame that takes intergenerational, collective, and historical trauma into account; and, how to integrate collective healing practices into the work of systems change. Regarding intergenerational trauma in particular, this older video from Dr. Joy Degruy on Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is worth taking the time to watch.

Democracy Notes
by Gabriel Lerner

If you haven’t already signed up for the Democracy Notes Substack, you are missing out! Special friend to Horizons, Gabriel Lerner, is curating many helpful resources, including these podcast interviews that offer a summary of recent events such as: a Principles First Summit recap with Scott Warren from SNF Agora Institute and Matt Germer from R Street; a Knight Media Forum recap with Elizabeth Green from Votebeat & Chalkbeat; and S. Mitra Kalita from URL Media; and, a Civic Learning Week recap with Elizabeth Clay Roy from Generation Citizen and Abbie Kaplan from iCivics.

Why Spain is Trusting Trans Teens on their Gender, instead of Restricting Them
by Domique Soguel, Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor has been organizing its coverage of global issues according to values, such as trust, hope, and security amongst many others. This article is just one example of their special project on Rebuilding Trust.Behind every news event are the values that drive people and nations. See how they offer a deeper, clearer understanding of the latest stories, or sort through all our stories by the different values beneath them.” Some of insights raised within this article about Spain: “It’s not that we parents are extra progressive parents who like these things….no, we are normal moms and dads and we want our son to be a son and our daughter to be a daughter. But more than that, we have to be loving people to our children and love has to be above all else.”

The (Identity) Politics of Reparations
by Trevor Smith

Creating lasting and durable change to realize reparations will rely on ‘situating social identity formation as a north star of our strategies’…Just as people identifying as “abolitionists” helped abolish slavery, it will take a critical mass of “reparationists” to achieve reparations. According to David Ragland, co-founder and co-executive director of The Truth Telling Project, there is a difference between what it looks like to show up as a Black reparationist versus a non-Black reparationist. ‘We walk through the world differently and with different levels of threat depending on where we are,’ says Ragland…a power analysis and a deep understanding of how we’ve arrived at this point of racial inequality and racial hierarchy will be crucial in the upcoming years to grow the movement for reparations…true liberation lies in living our lives through these frameworks.” 

WATCHING

What Young Leaders Want – and Don’t Want – from Older Allies
by Cogenerate (formerly Encore.org)

In this short video, you can hear directly from participants who engaged in deep conversations across generational lines to inform the recently launched report: What Young Leaders Want – and Don’t Want – from Older Allies. Some of the key highlights include a reminder that we must forge a personal connection before collaboration; that no one wants to be dismissed because of their age; and that the future of leadership is co-generational! If you’d like to hear more from these impressive young leaders, you can watch the report’s launch webinar here.

Conservative Views on Trump 2.0
Firing Line with Margaret Hoover on PBS

In this live forum, Margaret Hoover sits down with Protect Democracy’s Amanda Carpenter, one of the authors of The Authoritarian Playbook for 2025, and the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez, one of the contributors to Project 2025. From Protect Democracy’s newsletter, If You Can Keep It, “Two telling insights from the conversation: (1) The “deep state” myth is pervasive. The conceit behind Heritage’s program is that Trump’s first-term agenda was stymied by unelected civil servants (not the rule of law and high-profile Republican appointees, like John Kelly and Mike Pence, who refused to break laws on Trump’s behalf). This feeds into a second, even more dangerous myth that our institutions survived a first term — why would a second be different? Well, the answer is pretty simple: people. The people who put their constitutional oaths before Trump’s orders last time won’t be around next time. Because the Republican Party no longer has room for principled conservatives – who are unwilling to pursue power at any cost.” 

The Indigenous World View | Four Arrows
Entangled World

Four Arrows also known as Wahinkpe Topa or Dr. Don Trent Jacobs is internationally respected for his expertise in Indigeneity and a prolific author, such as his most recent book co-written with Dr. Darcia Narvaez, Restoring the Kinship Worldview: 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Mother Earth. In this episode, Four Arrows explores the Indigenous worldview, non-duality, and origin stories and myths. They talk about anthropocentrism, this idea that humans sit atop the pyramid of life and that everything else on Earth is inferior to and here for humans to use and then discard as they see fit – reflecting that this human-centric worldview lies at the root of our entangled crises and exploring some untraditional ways that worldviews and ultimately culture, might shift.

LISTENING TO

Exploring the Intersection of Information Integrity, Race, and US Elections
The Sunday Show, Tech Policy Press

At INFORMED 2024, the Knight Foundation brought together experts from policy, academia, and civil society for a series of conversations on democracy in the digital age. All the sessions are available for playback here. This conversation on the intersection of information integrity, race, and US elections was also reprised as a podcast that we highly recommend, with Brandi Collins-Dexter, the author of Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future; Dr. Danielle Brown, the founding director of the LIFT project, which is focused on mapping, networking and resourcing, trusted messengers to dismantle mis- and disinformation narratives that circulate in Black communities and about Black communities and Kathryn Peters one of the co-founders of Democracy Works.

Surprising New Findings on Civic Language, Featuring Amy McIsaac
Keeping PACE with Kristen podcast

“In this episode, Amy McIsaac, Managing Director of Learning and Experimentation at Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) talks about new findings from the Civic Language Perception Project, PACE’s long-term study surveying Americans on their perceptions of civic terms. Amy shares what is most surprising from the findings, including the terms that are bringing Americans together and motivating them to action. You can read a brief overview of the findings here; re-watch the report’s launch webinar here; and sign up for some upcoming deep dives into the research on different topics, such as “patriotism” and insights about GenZ.

What Makes Solidarity So Essential and How Could it Become Even More Transformative
The Review of Democracy podcast

Leah Hunt-Hendrix is interviewed about her new book Solidarity. The Past Present, and Future of a World Changing Idea that she co-authored with Astra Taylor. She “describes what makes solidarity so essential to social movements to advance and expand democratic ambitions; explains why philanthropy should be adapted to grassroots movements rather than vice versa; discusses how solidaristic organizing could become more transformative in the future; and reflects on the intellectual historical context of their book.”

Leading Across Great Divides
Masters of Scale podcast

“Just like private companies, many not-for-profit organizations begin when a founder sees a gap in the market and makes something new to fill it. Ian Bassin is a lawyer, former White House counsel and not-for-profit leader who saw a need to better protect and preserve the building blocks of America’s democratic systems, and steer things away from authoritarianism. His organization, Protect Democracy, brings together stakeholders across political divides to develop products, systems and services related to good governance. And Ian’s workforce has been entirely distributed – with employees now in more than 20 states – from the very beginning. Host Jeff Berman draws out Ian’s story of crafting Protect Democracy’s mission alongside its culture. Hear how Ian gained the confidence, political and financial capital to start his work, and how he aligns an all-remote team.”

FOR FUN

Better Together Film Festival

As a part of the 2024 National Week of Conversation, April 15-21, “community spaces across the country will participate in the Better Together Film Festival. Serving as hosting venues for film screenings and follow-up conversations, hundreds of libraries, museums, community centers, churches, colleges, etc. will help bring together diverse groups of people to view films that showcase hopeful stories of bridging divides. Audiences will be invited to engage in facilitated conversations following the screenings. These nonpartisan films were selected for Film Festival because they inspire hope and exemplify how everyday Americans and leaders can find common ground and understanding with each other, despite their differences.” Check out the film titles in the link for more information about each film, including a list of locations where the films will be screened. Register to attend a screening in your community or encourage a local organization to sign up to host a film screening.

THE VISTA: February 2024

February is the month of St. Valentine and so it’s a perfect time to reflect on the courageous power of love to sustain our relational organizing and care for each other. As we grapple with uncertainty, incorporate hope into our daily practice, and wield the power of imagination for seeking justice, many are also working on a new shared narrative of a future of belonging for all in the United States. At the same time, we take stock and learn from autocratic shocks in other countries, such as the lessons from Alexei Navalny’s murder in a Russian prison this month; and, we are inspired by the renewed focus on people power to demand freedom and justice around the world. It is especially important for the funding community to continue to support the “hidden wiring” behind our needed connections for broad-based movement-building across many lines of difference.

We also celebrated Black History (and Black Futures) this month, with many inspiring compilations and content to educate and help celebrate. Both looking back and looking forward as a nation requires that we engage in a conversation about racial justice and racial repair. Luckily, there are many resources to draw upon for communicating about the emerging topic of reparations. In addition, an important discussion has been unfolding about the current state of sustainable infrastructure of Black-led organizing, centering the foresight of Black leaders and their advocacy for sustained funding and on-going investment in capacity development.

Finally, this month Horizons would like to share that our colleague Jarvis Williams is taking on a new role as Director for Race and Democracy, reflecting both the gaps and opportunities we see to synergize lines of work and actors within the ecosystem of social change. We’ve compiled an initial list of resources that bring together the many elements of racial justice and democracy work, that we hope will help spur conversations and new insights.

Please enjoy some additional resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this month:

READING

Healing Systems
By Laura Calderon de la BarcaKatherine Milligan & John Kania

This Stanford Social Innovation Review article is a powerful read: “Seeing individual, intergenerational, collective, and historical trauma for what they are—powerful forces to reckon with in our present-day systems—and moving discussions about trauma from the margins to the mainstream can help the social sector discern new and effective approaches to systems change.”

Will You Join the Supermajority for Constitutional Democracy?
by Danielle Allen in The Washington Post

“…A supermajority for constitutional democracy. More than two-thirds of us committed to the basic norms and guardrails. That should be our goal. Any supermajority at that scale is [going] to be cross-ideological. But the real test of health for a democracy is not whether a large majority of us can agree on this or that policy, or this or that candidate, but whether it is possible to forge a cross-ideological supermajority in support of the core norms of constitutional democracy…What does that mean? It means to affirm a set of basic norms: a commitment to constitutionalism, rule of law, full inclusion, nonviolence and respect for elections.” 

Free For All: So What is Your Caste?
The Ink

Anand Giridharadas interviews Isabel Wilkerson the author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents a comparative inquiry, connecting the experience of structural racism in the US, Nazi Germany, and India. Ava DuVernay has turned the book (and the story of its writing) into a film, Origin. Word is the movie will make you think, and Giridharadas re-released this conversation with Wilkerson about what the book has to say to Americans about how to understand their historical experience of race and what it means as we move forward into the future.

Lead the Leaders: Lessons on Movement Building
by Joel Searby

As New Way Politics Leadership Network prepares for their Spring Summit, this article describes the ways that investment in leadership is critical. “In order to grow a movement and not just convene people, assume that everyone, from the biggest name to the newest organizer, needs to grow and will benefit from being led and fed. Pour into them.” Joel also stresses the importance of building diverse rooms. “In order to stay grounded, equitable, diverse and authentic, include people who are truly leaders but may not have ‘platforms’ or ‘influence.’”

WATCHING

The State of Black America
Harvard Kennedy School, Institute of Politics

Don’t miss this recorded discussion with leading scholars on multiple issues facing Black communities across the country. Setti Warren moderates with panelists Cornell William Brooks, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Sandra Susan Smith who have a wide-ranging discussion, including the many facets and historic context of our current democratic decline, specific policy solutions and the inspiring mutual aid networks and political education initiatives being led in Black communities around the country.

The Rise of the Far Right – And What We Can Do About It
Hosted by the Conduit, Ece Temelkuran, Paul Hilder, Jiore Craig, and Jon Alexander

“It’s time to face facts. Far right leaders have a firm grip on power in Turkey, Hungary, Italy and more; Trump’s polling lead in America is growing; the leading candidate to be the next Chancellor of Austria is openly using Hitlerian rhetoric in his campaign; and here in the UK the plates are shifting too. The work to fight back needs to accelerate hard, and it needs to involve all of us – and that begins with a clear-eyed understanding of what’s really going on: where exactly we are, how we got here, and what’s coming down the track. Then we can turn to the work of response, looking at what has already worked and what else might. Join Ece Temelkuran, Paul Hilder, Jiore Craig, and Jon Alexander for a critical discussion on the rise of far-right politics in Europe and the US hosted by The Conduit.

IMPACT: Creating Hope Together Keynote
John Paul Lederach

IMPACT is a global organization that advocates for arts and culture to transform conflict and build more creative, inclusive societies. Earlier this year, IMPACT convened a global community of activists and creatives to provide an online space for connection and to find creative inspiration together. You won’t want to miss the inspirational keynote address offered by renowned peacebuilder, John Paul Lederach. One nugget he offered is “how you’re choosing to respond to the particular challenges that any crisis offers us… is so key because being crisis responsive and long-term strategic means we have to have clarity of self and clarity of relationships and openness to work with and alongside people who may see the world very differently than us and who may be engaged in things that are not our areas of understanding or specialty but that ultimately we will need if we are to make change last.”

Join or Die
Documentary Trailer

Join or Die was released in 2023 and is now launching a year-long national community impact campaign. The film introduces Robert Putnam’s research on the importance of community to democracy and the decline in American community engagement over the past decades — especially to young Americans who were not alive to experience the Bowling Alone message go viral decades ago. “…we hope that the film can serve as a tool to catalyze urgent conversations in every city, campus, congregation, civic organization, and public institution across the country about how each can begin to answer the question: How can we help, in our own community, to build social capital and rejuvenate civic life?” If you’re interested in organizing a free film screening for your organization or community, you can find out more information at Host.JoinOrDie.Film.

Race Civic Identity and Self-Expression
Keseb Global

Keseb recently hosted a timely discussion on the intersection of race, civic identity, and self-expression. Joining this dialogue were two Keseb Fellows: PushBlack CEO Julian Walker interviewed Tessa Dooms, the Director of Programmes at Rivonia Circle and co-author of the recent book, “Coloured: How Classification Became Culture.” In recent months, South African singer Tyla has not only gained significant prominence in the international music scene but has also ignited a noteworthy discourse in the United States. As a South African, Tyla identifies as “coloured,” a term deeply embedded in South African culture. However, in the United States, this term carries a negative connotation, serving as a painful reminder of the oppressive Jim Crow era. This conversation was part of Keseb’s 2024 Mega Election Year event series.

LISTENING TO

On the Courage to Blow the Whistle
On Leading Podcast

“If I learned one thing, it’s that it really is never too late to do the right thing.” Miles Taylor was the senior official who anonymously sounded a five-alarm warning in the NYT Times op-ed I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. During this podcast interview, he candidly shares why he chose to unmask himself and “go public” with the stand he took for the future of the United States. He describes how important it is to come forward publicly to lower the price of dissent for others. He explains that many people are scared to speak out or remain anonymous for fear of being cast out of their own political tribe, but he explains how there is life on the other side of a right decision.

Advancing Social Impact Chuckle by Chuckle with Negin Farsad
Say More with Tulaine Montgomery Podcast                   

“Policymaking isn’t enough to create real change. Impact begins with a shift in culture. Negin Farsad, a comedian and filmmaker, talks to me about the importance of comedy in creating a foundation for social change. She also explains how comedy has helped her build bridges across identities.”

Faith in Elections
BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) Podcast

How does religious freedom overlap with ensuring fair and free elections? And “what is the role of churches and other houses of worship in protecting democracy? This topic usually comes up because of bad actors that overstep into partisanship, but [this podcast discussion] looks at how faith communities can help our elections run smoothly. Holly Hollman speaks with Chris Crawford about how people of faith can love their neighbors and take active roles in protecting our system of government.” Protect Democracy and Interfaith America partnered to help faith communities serve their communities during the 2024 election; check out their Faith in Elections Playbook.

How is Political Violence Different in 2024? Featuring Alex Theodoridis
Keeping Pace with Kristen Podcast

Kristen Cambell from Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) interviews Alexander Theodoridis on how political violence today differs from that which we saw in the past such as scenes from Vietnam protests, or politics amidst the Civil War. “This short podcast will help you develop greater awareness of how political violence is birthed, how it draws on human nature, and how it can be addressed.”

FOR FUN

Why We Should Cook Big
Weave the Social Fabric Project, Aspen Institute

“For many weavers, food is the path to opening hearts and creating connections that can then turn into after-school programs, friendships across race or class, support for immigrants or neighbors returning from prison, and any number of other weaving projects. And while it might feel like magic, there’s proof that shared food helps build trust. Two researchers at the University of Chicago ran a series of experiments to see the effects of eating the same food during negotiations. In one experiment, they asked participants to play the role of a manager and a union representative during salary negotiations. During their discussion, they were served snacks. When the pairs ate the same food, they got to agreement much quicker than when they ate different foods. Sharing food, the researchers found, promotes trust and cooperation.”

THE VISTA: January 2024

Happy 2024 from Horizons! A year when half the population of the world will be going to the polls. One of the main lessons from recent electoral successes – like in Poland – is the importance of keeping pro-democracy coalition(s) from fracturing. So staying together as partisans for democracy is especially important as we go into this electoral year. There are several helpful efforts underway to map the pro-democracy ecosystem in the US and to reflect on the ways pro-democracy private philanthropy is responding. And while Horizons continues to be galvanized by the authoritarian threat in the US, we also feel a sense of hope and momentum from the many state-level efforts to fight back against these anti-democratic trends, such as Pennsylvania Uniters and KeepLouisanaUnified.org.

Check out this short explainer video on the Pillars of Support framework that Horizons released earlier this month to help make sense of authoritarian systems and highlighting some of the strategies used during the civil rights movement. In January, we also celebrate Martin Luther King Jr – a day to be inspired not only by his vision and leadership, but by the multitude of people who made up civil rights movements. Appreciation to More Perfect for sharing this short film, Traveling with Dr. King, featuring stories from several of Dr. King’s closest advisers, and we also recommend King: A Film Recorded…Montgomery to Memphis covering some of the most critical campaigns of that period. Part of commemorating MLK Day is also to be clear eyed about our history in the country and to take seriously the current resurgence of threats of political violence that is having an increasingly chilling effect on democratic participation.

And finally, we are finding such inspiration from those elevating the calls for love and radical collaboration as the foundations for our organizing. We agree!

Enjoy some additional resources we are reading, watching, and listening to this month:

READING

Searching for a New Paradigm: Collective Settings

A Partnership of More in Common and the SNF Agora Institute

Within the complex ecosystem of democracy reformers, there is often two dominant paradigms: (1) institutional reform efforts and (2) individual, psycho-social interventions. Through a series of case studies, this report seeks to articulate another paradigm for making democracy work: investing in the design and distribution of civic infrastructure. “By investing in collective settings, we hope to develop the muscles for democracy that people and communities will need to seek, identify, and implement shared solutions that do not accept the world as it is but instead create the world they need.”

Slow Change Can Be Radical Change

by Rebecca Solnit, Literary Hub

“The expectation that change will be swift and the failure to perceive it when it’s not impacts politics for the worse. A common source of uninformed despair is when a too-brief effort doesn’t bring a desired result—one round of campaigning, one protest. Another immense impact of this impatience and attention-span deficit comes when a political process reaches its end, but too many don’t remember its beginning. At the end of most positive political changes, a powerful person or group seems to hand down a decision. But at the beginning of most were grassroots campaigns to make it happen. The change got handed up before it got handed down, and only the slow perspective, the long view, lets you see the power that lies in ordinary people, in movements, in campaigns that often are seen as unrealistic, extreme, aiming for the impossible at their inception.”

Democracy Hypocrisy: Examining America’s Fragile Democratic Convictions

by Joe Goldman, Lee Drutman, and Oscar Pocasangre, The Democracy Fund 

“Will Americans stand up for democracy even when it works against their party?” The View of the Electorate Research (VOTER) Survey is a longitudinal survey that Democracy Fund has conducted in partnership with YouGov since December 2016. Insights from the most recent report include: while the vast majority of Americans claim to support democracy, fewer than half consistently and uniformly support democratic norms across multiple surveys over the past seven years; support for democratic norms softens considerably when they conflict with partisanship; the portion of the public who are consistently authoritarian — Americans who consistently justify political violence or support alternatives to democracy over multiple survey waves — is also relatively small. This leaves most Americans somewhere between consistent democratic and authoritarian leanings, a position often heavily shaped by partisanship.

Framing Democracy: A Quick Start Guide

The Frameworks Institute

“Democracy in the United States is at a crossroads. Moving forward, the strength of our democratic system will depend on public support and action, which in turn depends on how people think about and make sense of democracy itself. The framing choices we make can have a major impact on how people understand democracy in the US—what it is, how it works, and how it can be better. In this short guide, we zero in on democracy—specifically, how can we foster a more productive dialogue and build a greater understanding of what democracy is and how we can improve it in the US?”

WATCHING

National Day of Racial Healing

NBC News Now Special

The National Day of Racial Healing was launched in 2017 and is observed each year on January 16th to reflect on our shared values around equality and how we can heal from the effects of racism. The National Day of Racial Healing is a part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing Transformation efforts We enjoyed seeing our friend and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)-KY organizer, Beth Howard, in the special! You can read more about all the organizations who commemorated this day and the many events they hosted around the country here.

Democracy by Margaret Atwood | Democracy 2024

The Financial Times

“In a year in which more than half the world goes to the polls, acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood asks whether democracy is fragile and easily destroyed or flexible and resilient. This [short] animated monologue is the first of four films examining the state of government, representation, rights, and freedom.”

Political Violence in the US Landscape: Are We Ready?

Kettering Conversations

Three years after the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, political violence remains a threat to American democracy. You can watch the recordings of this live January 2024 Kettering Conversation, as they engaged with thought leaders about the ongoing threats of political violence including James Comey, former director of the FBI; Chris Matthews, nationally known broadcast journalist and political commentator and Kelley Robinson, President, Human Rights Campaign amongst others.

Your Creative Superpowers Can Help Protect Democracy

Sofia Ongele, TED Democracy

“’Democracy is more fun and inviting when you take it into your own hands,’ says creator and activist Sofia Ongele. Sharing how she’s using coding and social media to defend democracy, Ongele invites us to identify our own creative superpowers — whether it’s community organizing, making music or telling stories — and use them to cause a ruckus and bring movements to life.”

LISTENING TO

January 6th: An American Story

An Audio Docuseries by Our Body Politic

“Many of the investigators and team leads on the January 6th Committee that investigated the insurrection were people of color… We bring you the story of their leadership, and why their mix of lived experience as descendants of enslaved people; children of immigrants; or immigrants themselves deeply shaped the committee’s quest to protect and uphold a multiracial pluralistic democracy. In January 6th: An American Story, we show – through the eyes of the people of color helping to lead the committee – that January 6th is not over, and the ways we continue to make sense of its reverberations could save – or imperil – us all.”

A New World Combining

Interview with Nora Bateson, Entangled World Podcast

Nora Bateson discusses her latest book, Combining, where she challenges conventional fixes for our problems, highlighting the need to tackle issues at multiple levels, understand interdependence, and embrace ambiguity. The interview looks at how we cannot solve our current global challenges or the metacrisis with direct correctives. She discusses the fact that in ecological systems nothing is happening one thing at a time. There’s not A solution to A problem.

1/6 the Graphic Novel

Why? The Podcast

What would have happened if the January 6th insurrection had been successful? The second installment is out! Check out this interview with Harvard law professor Alan Jenkins who co-wrote the graphic novel with Gan Golan (and illustrated by Will Rosado). Drawing on real-life events on 1/6, the novel imagines a world in which the events of that day turned out very differently. It’s a story that demands our attention and calls on us to act. You can order the first two issues on the comic’s website

FOR FUN
Check out the Poetry Clinic, now live! “Poetry Clinic provides a poetic response to the complex situation of being a human during this time of climate crisis, cascading conflicts, the ongoing pandemic, and other social and environmental upheavals. Poetry Clinic cultivates new relationships among readers, poets, and poems in a time of profound uncertainty. In short, Poetry Clinic serves as a portal for users to request poems that address specific life situations they’re facing. 

You are invited to email the Clinic with your quandary, any experience or circumstance, for which a poem might be a balm — or a disruption, an opening of sorts. Poetry Clinic is the online equivalent of an apothecary, but instead of dispensing herbs and potions, they offer up poems to help soothe a moment of your heartache or worry–or to join in celebrating births, marriages, love, transitions, the passionate transitory.

THE VISTA: December 2023

As we close out the year, the team at Horizons would like to extend our gratitude to all our partners and colleagues for the much-appreciated collaboration, learning, and commitment to relationship-building across lines of difference in 2023. We continue to be inspired by the new ways that the pro-democracy ecosystem is organizing across sectors and the recognition of new funding practices that this collective work requires. Many of us are trying to make sense of the trends from the year that are propelling us into 2024 and this list from Pew Research offers some “striking findings.” Or, you can really geek out with this mega list of lists of trends from the year.

Horizons’ work continues to be animated by the resurgence of the authoritarian threat both in the US and around the world, and if you’re not listening to the short video updates of scholar Ruth Ben-Ghiat, we highly recommend tuning in. As a part of our Pillars of Support Project, Horizons was pleased to co-host this month with the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins – a small salon with diverse leaders working on the role of business in promoting and defending democracy. You can read more about the perspectives of several of those leaders in this recent article highlighting the work of Business for America.

Also in December, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Harvard’s Carr Center released Making a Movement: The History and Future of Human Rights which includes a range of discussions on the intersection of the UDHR and global human rights with the themes of racial justice, transitional justice, economic equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, security, migration, changing political systems, climate change, advancing technology, and more.

As our hearts (and some relationships) continue to break over what is happening in Israel and Gaza, several organizations are providing helpful resources, such as how to speak out against bigoted, dehumanizing rhetoric and also how to have a conversation with those who many have a different perspective from you.

During this season of light and love, we hope you find some time for rest and rejuvenation during the end-of-the-year holidays, and please enjoy some of the other resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to:

READING

How to Survive 2024

by Amanda Ripley

What’s the “right” way to live through a high-conflict election year? This article includes three lessons from a wise conflict survivor and also highlights a few of the books that are helping the author make sense of the world these days…in hopes they might help you, too.

New York Gov. Hochul Signs Bill On Reparations, Joining California And These Other Cities

by Brian Bushard, Forbes

New York’s Governor signed a bill into law this month creating a commission to study the impact of slavery and centuries of racism in the state, and potentially propose reparations, becoming the second state after California to take such action. Check out NY4reparations.org to join the movement for reparations in in the state. You can also read more about the role of philanthropy in helping to create a culture of repair and learn more about narrative power and infrastructure for reparations in this great article by Trevor Smith from Liberation Ventures. And if you’d like to get more involved with repair work, check out this call for nominations for the Cultivating Repair Catalyst Initiative.

Practical Radicals: Seven Strategies to Change the New World

by Deepak Bhargava and Stephanie Luce

“At a time when so much is at stake – from our climate to our economy to the state of our democracy – the strategies offered in this book feel especially timely for activists, organizers, and advocates who are fighting to win huge battles ahead.” The book profiles seven timeless strategies that have helped some of our nation’s most successful grassroots movements win in the face of enormous opposition. Organizers often talk about power – in Practical Radicals the authors explain what power is and isn’t and describe six forms of power used throughout history by “overdogs” and “underdogs.” The authors also discuss topics like how overdogs in business, the military, and politics develop strategy and what we can learn from them, how we address conflict in movements, how organizations and social change leaders can get better at strategy (great strategists are made, not born!), and explore methods for developing long-term, multi-generational and ecosystem-wide strategies.

WATCHING

Power Grids Under Attack: The Threat is Domestic Terrorism – Not Drag Artists

The Laura Flanders Show

On December 3, 2022, an attack on two electricity substations in Moore County, NC plunged 45,000 households and businesses into darkness for almost a week. A year on, no arrests have been made and authorities have named no suspects other than to say that whoever did this “knew what they were doing.” The attack on the substations coincided exactly with a drag performance in the Moore County town of Southern Pines. The episode highlights the first reading of a defiant drag opera in Durham that is being created by drag artists working with Blueprint NC as a tool for education and building community safety. “This episode is a must-watch for anyone interested in domestic terror threats, public safety, LGBTQ rights and more.”

The Art of Scaling Deep

Webinar hosted by The Tamarack Institute with Tatiana Fraser, Rachel Sinha, and Lisa Attygalle

As many working for social change think about how to “scale” our work, Horizons appreciated the insights of Tatiana Fraser of The Systems Sanctuary in her recent publication The Art of Scaling Deep. You can re-watch the launch webinar to learn more. Scaling deep includes prioritizing the gradual and meaningful cultivation of relationships, acknowledging the importance of context, fostering connections that unite diverse communities, and emphasizing the essential role of self-reflection and healing.

How to Build a Global Pro-Democracy Movement

Yordanos Eyoel, TED Democracy

“’Democracy is the most compelling vision we have for self-governance,’ says freedom advocate Yordanos Eyoel. Taking a stand against predatory and opportunist authoritarian forces, she shares how to reimagine, accelerate, and protect the pro-democracy movement — to build societies that are both functional and inclusive.” You can also watch some other great videos from the recent TED Democracy conference, like this one by Michigan activist Katie Fahey who sparked a successful campaign to end the practice of gerrymandering.

LISTENING TO

Why We Need Hope

Speaking of Psychology Podcast

“When the news is filled with war and climate change and other disasters, remaining hopeful about the future can feel impossible. But psychologists’ research has found that hope is not an unrealistic luxury, but a necessity. Jacqueline Mattis, PhD, of Rutgers University, and Chan Hellman, PhD, of the University of Oklahoma, discuss the difference between hope and optimism, why cultivating hope can help people facing adversity and trauma, and what all of us can do to find hope in trying and uncertain times.” And if this topic interests you – make sure to also sign up for Thomas Coombes newsletter on all things hope-related. It’s super.

The New Wave of Neuroscience

Think Peace Podcast

“As the social change landscape experiences rapid and holistic transformations, the integration of diverse disciplines and knowledge fields is shaping new paradigms of “peace” and “justice.” In this episode of the Think Peace Podcast, Dr. Colette Rausch has an insightful conversation with Dr. Sará King on the intersection of neuroscience, mental health, and wellbeing. Sará King, M.A., Ph.D., is the founder of the MindHealth Collective, an organization dedicated to addressing the consequences of intergenerational trauma and she provides valuable insights into the integration of wellbeing practices within the realm of social justice.

Constraints, Complexity & Context (Oh My!) w/ Alicia Juarrero

The Deep Dive Podcast

“[Host,] Philip McKenzie spends time with educator/writer/philosopher Alicia Juarrero discussing her latest book Context Changes Everything: How Constraints Create Coherence. In their conversation, they cover how complexity has become a widely used but largely misunderstood term, the significance of context and different ways of knowing.”

Solidarity Narratives in Crises, A Practice Guide

Solidarity Is This Podcast

Deepa Iyer and Shanelle Matthews discuss how organizations can shape solidarity narratives in a time of crisis. “Often during movement moments or societal crises, organizations may contemplate drafting and releasing Solidarity Statements to convey their support of the demands and perspectives of partner groups and affected community members.” You can check out the excellent solidarity resources of the Building Movement Project here.

FOR FUN

A Viral Dance and Happiness Campaign Frustrates Iran’s Clerics

by Farnaz Fassihi and Leily Nikounazar, The New York Times

We need more joy in our movements!! “A new form of protest against the government is rocking Iran: a viral dance craze set to an upbeat folk song where crowds clap and chant the rhythmic chorus, “Oh, oh, oh, oh.” In cities across Iran men and women of all ages are gyrating their hips, swirling their arms in the air, and chanting the song’s catchy lines, according to videos posted on social media, television news channels like BBC Persian, and Iranians interviewed. People are dancing on the streets, in shops, at sport stadiums, in classrooms, malls, restaurants, gyms, parties, and everywhere else they congregate. In Tehran traffic was stopped in a major highway tunnel for an impromptu dance party to the song. Young women, hair uncovered and flowing, dance in parks, and young men performed a choreographed hip-hop dance.”

THE VISTA: November 2023

This fall was a busy month of convenings for the Horizons’ team, making us particularly aware of the need to make time for building deep community when we are in these spaces together; and, we are reminded of our commitment to relational organizing. One of the amazing events we had the pleasure to help plan and participate in was the Othering & Belonging Institute’s Conference in Berlin in October. You can watch all the sessions on their YouTube Channel, and we would recommend this lovely blog, taking inspiration from one of the conference speakers, Turkish writer Ece Temelkuran, who discussed how we can practically bring love into politics using the example of Ekrem İmamoğlu’s successful Radical Love campaign for Mayor of Istanbul in 2019.

We have spent time participating in convenings of conservatives who are reflecting on their movement’s commitment to democracy, and we found inspiration during a recent gathering with a group of futurists, academics and non-profit leaders who are at the forefront of reimagining democracy and governance. The alarming increase in political violence continues to be the focus of many convenings and discussions, and we are pleased to be partnering with the newly-launched Bedrock, a new nonpartisan organization committed to supporting institutions and leaders reversing the alarming increase in hate-fueled violence in the US. You can watch Maria Stephan’s recent keynote, The Power and Promise of Nonviolent Action, sponsored by the Interfaith Peace Working Group and the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Center for Interfaith Dialogue.

In every space where we gather, we have felt the shared pain of the ongoing violence in Palestine and Israel. Horizons continues to reflect on the need for nuance and care for our interpersonal relationships and the role for a stronger peace and justice movement.

Finally, during this season of gratitude in the US, we honor the legacy of Rosalynn Carter and also appreciate this creative video with curator Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) from the National Museum of the American Indian discussing the creation of Thanksgiving as a holiday. At Horizons, we continue to be extremely grateful for your partnership(s) and all you’re doing to make the world a better place.

Here are some additional materials we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to:

READING

Cycles of Trauma and Journeys to Wellbeing

by the Wellbeing Project and Georgetown University

Prior to this report, trauma, wellbeing, and social change were examined as related but distinct subjects. The authors and their large group of collaborators from across the world and across disciplines used a systems level analysis to reveal and address the gaps in this paradigm. The resulting “framework is intended to offer a holistic view of trauma and wellbeing that can aid the ongoing global quest for social justice and equity.” And this more complete outlook is needed “to shift vicious cycles of intergenerational trauma toward virtuous cycles of intergenerational wellbeing, we need context and culture-specific strategies for transformation that operate on individual, communal, and systemic levels of relation.”

The military’s secret weapon is … humor

by Theodore R. Johnson, The Washington Post

Theodore Johnson’s recent Veterans Day piece explored the importance of humor in the military and highlighted a recent comedy show featuring veterans hosted by the Armed Services Arts Partnership. (Enjoy the video clips embedded in the article.) This was more than just a comedy show, it served as a jumping off point for the comics and the audience to have conversations about difficult topics which came up in the comics’ sets. “Lots of advice was given, but it boiled down to this, as true for comedians as it is for military men and women telling stories during all the waiting — and for a nation not very good at dialogue lately: You have to know your audience to humor them.”

Workplace Political Polarization

by Ethical Systems, NYU Stern Business and Society Program

We know that workplace polarization is a big concern for business leaders, and one of the entry points for engaging businesses in a pro-democracy agenda to address the root causes of our increasing polarization. This recent report reviews “the factors leading to the current state of extreme polarization and the resulting effects on the workplace, and it explores various potential solutions. Every effort has been made to avoid judgments about the right-left paradigm and to focus on consistent social and psychological factors that are applicable in understanding and responding to political polarization.”

Faith in Elections Playbook

by Interfaith America and Protect Democracy

“The Faith in Elections Playbook supports faith-based, civic and campus communities with accessible, actionable resources to support the 2024 election. This playbook is designed to make it easier for faith and community leaders to join work that is already happening across America to help the 2024 elections run smoothly, so that all eligible voters can access a ballot and every valid vote is counted. [The] purpose in compiling and curating this information, is to enable organizations to focus on taking actions that best align with their interests, their skills, and the needs of their communities.”

WATCHING

2023 Keseb Virtual Global Democracy Champions Summit – Highlights Video

If you missed Keseb’s three-day virtual Summit, you can re-watch all the sessions online. “Keseb engaged in salient conversations around fighting authoritarianism, safeguarding civil liberties, protecting our information ecosystems, and building towards a pluralistic democracy in 15+ sessions with speakers who are democracy entrepreneurs, activists, academics, journalists, philanthropists, and policymakers.”

Multiracial White Supremacy? The Shifting Grounds of Race

Daniel HoSang for Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice’s Public Programming

As part of its commitment to fostering meaningful dialogue and analyzing the context of critical movements, Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice launched this Lecture Series to give social justice leaders the opportunity to delve into topics relevant to movement building. This year’s series focuses on the threat posed by authoritarian populism and how to better organize against it. You don’t want to miss this recent conversation between Scot Nakagawa from 22nd Century Initiative and Daniel HoSang on the changing demographics of white supremacy movements.

The Truth About Civility

The Hopeful Majority with Manu Meel

In this episode of The Hopeful Majority, Manu sits down with author Alexandra Hudson to discuss her new book, The Soul of Civility. They reflect on what civility is, whether it’s even necessary, and have a wide-reaching conversation about Dr. King’s legacy, the difference between civility and politeness, the 2024 election, and much more.

RISE Action Guide Launch Symposium: Opening Plenary

United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

You can re-watch USIP’s recent launch event for the Rehabilitation and (Re)integration through Individual, Social and Structural Engagement (RISE) Action Guide. “[The Guide] provides… a peacebuilding framework to support the rehabilitation of people disengaging from extremist violence as well as their reintegration into, and reconciliation with, local communities. The RISE Action Guide’s overarching goal is to encourage behavioral changes that facilitate disengagement from, and the rejection of, violence by lowering barriers and opening spaces for sustained, positive, inclusive engagement between people disengaging from extremist violence and local community members and institutions.”

LISTENING TO

Dunking On Trump’s Lawyers Might Not Be The Win You Think It Is

Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick podcast

“What role will the former President’s many many legal woes play in the coming months? A clearer picture is emerging after testimony for the prosecution wrapped in the civil fraud trial against Trump and his adult sons in their roles at the helm of the Trump Organization in New York City [recently]. That picture is of a political candidate claiming to be the victim of an unprecedented legal witch hunt. In other words, as the trials proceed within the courts, a political trial is underway on the courtroom steps, at campaign stops, and in the media. On this podcast episode, Professor Eric Posner, of the University of Chicago Law School, author of The Demagogue’s Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy from the Founders to Trump, [discusses] political trials – their history and their risks.”

How Do We Remain Bridgebuilders During Times of War?

Interfaith America with Eboo Patel podcast

“Amanda Ripley is a New York Times bestselling author, journalist, and co-founder of Good Conflict, a media and training company that helps people reimagine conflict. As the violence abroad and at home escalates, Ripley and Patel discuss “high conflict” – what it is, how it impacts individuals and society, and ways to resolve high-conflict situations.”

Interview with Bjørn Ihler

Did Nothing Wrong podcast

You don’t want to miss the conversation with a global leader in the fight against hate and violent extremism, Bjørn Ihler from Glitterpill and the Khalifa-Ihler Institute. In this interview, he discusses how to promote peace and inclusivity in our communities, and how to reach people with an alternative to hate.

FOR FUN

Amplifier recently released a new collaboration with Shepard Fairey, including a limited print series to “Defend Democracy.” They have been collaborating with Fairey for over a decade on some of the most important movements of our time, and now consider that “there are few greater than protecting our democracy.” The sales of these prints will fund photographers and photo-based artists to build projects exposing threats to democracy in the run-up to the 2024 elections.

Check out Agents of Influence, a game to teach middle and high school students to combat misinformation and reduce polarization. The game has won several awards including the Aspen Competition on Information Disorder.

THE VISTA: October 2023

This has been an emotionally heightened month worldwide as we confront the violence in Israel and Palestine and a rise of hate speech and violence in the US and globally. If you are not familiar with the history of the region, this short video from Jewish Voices for Peace is instructive.

More than ever, how we talk about violence and this conflict matters, as described by our close colleague Rachel Brown from Over Zero. Please take the time to read this important perspective from a life-long peacebuilder and friend of Horizons’ Lisa Schirch, Scaling the Wall of Grief in Israel and Palestine as well as Masha Gessen’s The Tangled Grief of Israel’s Anti-Occupation Activists. There is an alarming surge of antisemitism around the world, as well as growing anti-Muslim actions that we should all be standing in solidarity against. This month, the Greater Good Science Center provided a list of resources for peace and conflict that explores the roots of peace, war, and reconciliation; offers resources for well-being and activism; and reminds us of human goodness.

At Horizons, we believe that our global struggles for justice, democratic values and civic freedoms are deeply intertwined, so we celebrate the recent pro-democracy electoral win in Poland; grieve with the recent defeats in Australia for indigenous rights and in India for LGBTQ+ rights; and will continue to learn from the mobilization efforts in Latin America and beyond.

And finally, as part of our Pillars of Support project our colleague, Sama Shah, recently published an article entitled Faith in Democracy: Mobilizing Religious Communities for Democratic Change.

Here are some additional resources that we have been reading, watching, and listening to this month:

READING

Why Anti-LGBTQ Attacks Matter for Democracy

by Ari Shaw, Council on Foreign Relations

Ari Shaw shares the findings from their recent report on the linkages between anti-LGBTQIA+ policies and democratic backsliding across 175 countries. They find that, “Anti-LGBTQI+ attacks create a wedge that defines sexual and gender minorities as outsiders and threats to a core national identity. This fissure can then be used to justify subsequent antidemocratic behavior in the name of protecting ‘the nation.’” Additionally, they highlight that supporting the LGBTQIA+ community can be a bulwark against democratic backsliding.

Conditions to Flourish: Understanding the Ecosystem for Narrative Power

by Abi Knipe, The Global Narrative Hive

As a part of the Global Narrative Hive’s launch, a new report was released: Conditions to Flourish: Understanding the Ecosystem for Narrative Power (available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish). Based on hundreds of conversations the report, “paints a picture of the ecosystem of actors who are working to build narrative power in movements, as well as of the movements themselves. The picture shows different groupings — or kinds of actors — within this ecosystem, the interconnections between them and what they need to succeed.”

Launching the Reparations Narrative Lab

by Trevor Smith, LinkedIn

Liberation Ventures recently launched their first narrative program, The Reparations Narrative Lab (RNL), which in turn published the report There Are New Suns: Building A Transformative Narrative For The Black Reparations Movement and the schema the Narrative House. There’s a lot to dig into with these resources that “can help us collectively strengthen our language and understanding of repairing the pervasive ills of colonialism, imperialism, war, xenophobia, anti-Blackness, and all of the other harmful systems we’ve socially constructed.”

Finally, Moderate Republicans Will Have a Say

by Daniel Stid, Democracy

In this piece Daniel Stid explores what could happen if the House of Representatives was elected through a system of proportional representation and how that could support more moderate Republicans. Building off of the work that More In Common has done on political tribes, he lays out a compelling vision of a better functioning House of Representatives which could have knock-on effects on the Senate and the rest of the political system.

WATCHING

Interview: Countering Authoritarianism with Maria J. Stephan and V Fixmer-Oraiz

Brad Rourke’s Blog

Following a panel presentation at the recent National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) conference in Atlanta, Horizons’ Chief Organizer Maria Stephan explains the authoritarian playbook and especially how authoritarians use the tactics of divide and rule to pit groups against each other and engage in or encourage political violence. The second interviewee V Fixmer-Oraiz, a member of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors in Iowa and leader of the Iowa City Ad Hoc Truth and Reconciliation Commission, then describes how this playbook impacts local elected officials. They leave us all with the chilling question that V’s wife asked, “What should I do if . . . there’s an active shooter, do I take care of the children or do I take care of you?”

Creating New American Stories of Us: Can Storytellers Save America?

Bridging Entertainment Lab

Bridge Entertainment Labs (BEL) believes that “Storytellers can be the heroes America needs right now, dismantling the destructive ‘us versus them’ dynamics that are fueling our current political crisis and isolating Americans from one another. Storytellers can act as societal norm-shifters for how we engage across our differences, helping us imagine a shared democracy for an ideologically diverse, multiracial America.” Check out the launch of BEL’s “event series that explores entertainment’s potential to strengthen America’s social fabric and create a shared sense of ‘us’ as Americans.”

Living In the Metacrisis with Jonathan Rowson

In the Making Films

In this short video, Jonathan Rowson gives an insightful view of our current experience of “living in the metacrisis.” Rather than muddling through this era and passively observing the world around us, Jonathan sees this era as a natural process of renewal and a time where we can use our imaginations and where we have agency to form this next epoch in human life on Earth.

LISTENING TO

Baratunde Thurston — How to Be a Social Creative

On Being with Krista Tippett

“Baratunde Thurston is a comedian, writer, and media entrepreneur. He has eyes open to the contradictions, strangeness, and beauty of being human. He looks for learning happening even amidst our hardest cultural tangles. And he intertwines all of this, innovatively and searchingly, with his lifelong joy in the natural world. The kaleidoscopic view of life and love and the world that is Baratunde’s builds and builds in this conversation Krista had with him … towards an exuberant glimpse of how we can all be more fully human and socially creative.”

Rethinking Life: The Myth of the Hierarchal Value of Human Lives

Red Letter Christians Podcast

“Shane Claiborne continues his special series based on his newest book, Rethinking Life. In this episode, he talks about what it means when we say Black Lives Matter, what the value of life is, who determines it, and examines racism in Christianity.”

Democracy 2076: Shaping a Resilient Future for the United States

Revolutionary Optimism Podcast

Dr. Paul Zeitz interviews Aditi Juneja “as she shares her inspiring journey from the granddaughter of refugees to a leading democracy reformer. Discover how she’s dedicated her life to strengthening the United States’ democracy and transforming it for the better. Explore her visionary initiative, Democracy 2076, which aims to reshape the foundations of democracy, reimagine political storytelling in Hollywood, and prepare for the political realignment of the future. Get insights into the critical work of creating pro-democracy political parties that will shape the future of American politics. Don’t miss this thought-provoking discussion on the path to a resilient and inclusive democracy for 2076!”

INTERESTING OPPORTUNITIES

Are you inspired to work for democracy and social justice? Check out these 2024 Fellowship opportunities. Whether you are an experienced social justice professional, an emerging leader, or a curious student, these fellowship programs offer tools and support to make a lasting impact on your community and beyond. Deadlines are fast approaching so check it out!

THE VISTA: September 2023

September is a busy month for those working at the intersection of democracy and peacebuilding, as several important days of commemoration are celebrated while the United Nations gathers for its annual General Assembly. With shared challenges of democratic backsliding around the world (such as in India) and painful historic reckonings to be addressed (such as in Chile), the International Day of Democracy provided an important moment to reflect on how US democratic erosion is accelerating compared to other countries. Don’t miss this framing document commissioned by Action Aid Denmark on the need for people-powered movements both in the US and globally, and the initial recommendations for funders and allies from around the world.

Later in the month, as we celebrate the International Day of Peace, we reflect that “peace” appears to resonate with the US public, even if we use different language for goals related to justice, security and safety. And, Horizons is particularly inspired by the “critical constellations of arts and culture in peacebuilding that helps us weave together our past and chart collective futures.

Also this month, we observed the 60-year anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four girls. U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was the keynote speaker at the commemoration and spoke about the beauty of Alabama in the fight for civil rights: “If we are going to continue to move forward as a nation, we cannot allow concerns about discomfort to displace knowledge, truth or history. It is certainly the case that parts of this country’s story can be hard to think about,” Jackson said. Artists also stepped up to contribute to the commemoration. Don’t miss this monthly poster series led by veteran graphic artist, Marcus Watts. 

Finally, we are excited to share the beta version of the Democracy Resource Hub. The Hub was established to compile a wide range of tools and resources for anti-authoritarian and pro-democracy organizing in an easily accessible manner for trainers, facilitators, researchers, and practitioners. This effort is the product of a collaboration between the 22nd Century Initiative, United Vision Idaho, the Shift Action Lab and The Horizons Project, and is hosted on The Commons Library for Social Change. Let us know what you think! Please submit any resources you would like to be included in the hub here. And enjoy some of the things we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this month:

TO READ

The Problem with Anti-Anti-Christian Nationalism

by Paul D. Miller, Christianity Today

Paul Miller, the author of the recently published The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism, writes in Christianity Today about the danger posed by “anti-anti-Christian nationalists”, who “busy themselves with warning of the dangers not of Christian nationalism itself but of warning against Christian nationalism.” He finds that in doing so, “the anti-anti-Christian nationalist position overlooks the relationship between extremists and mainstream movements and the responsibility of the latter to police the former.”

How Deep Canvass Conversations Can Transform America

by Sulma Arias and Eboni Taggart, Our Future

People’s Action Institute explains how deep canvassing works and provides examples of groups using this approach in a variety of contexts to advance policy objectives within their communities. They do note that, “deep canvassing is not a magic bullet for social justice – nothing really is. Real social change takes rigor, discipline, and the full set of tools every organizer needs.” Consider joining their one-hour Introduction to Deep Canvassing on October 24, to discover what deep canvassing is and how it works. 

Nurturing Patriotic Civic Engagement: Five Ways Parents Can Teach Civics to their Children

We The Veterans

Horizons believes that Veterans have an important role to play in helping to protect and preserve democracy. We the Veterans provides a helpful resource for its community – and beyond – of five simple and concrete activities that parents can use to teach their children about civics and to encourage them to grow up to be active citizens. They also include a list of outside resources for parents.

TO WATCH

Emerging Issues Conference 2023

The Kettering Foundation

“On September 19, 2023, in Washington, DC, the Kettering Foundation held its first Emerging Issues Conference, focused on connections and creative tensions among major themes in the pro-democracy space… Expert panelists and audience participants explored the dimensions of authoritarian moves taking place both globally and in the United States, responses and the tensions between potential solutions, and potential ways forward.” Don’t miss seeing Horizons’ Director for Applied Research Jarvis Williams ask the first question during the event!

Today Is Democracy Day!

via UnderTheDeskNews

“Scores of news organizations across the country came together on September 15th to collectively publish, broadcast, share and highlight pro-democracy journalism as part of U.S. Democracy Day 2023.” Local and national news outlets coordinated their coverage which allowed the stories to have larger impact by placing them squarely in the broader fight for our democracy. You can learn more about the collective impact here.

How Can American Democracy Work Better For Busy People?

Preserving Democracy

In this interview, Kevin Elliott, the author of Democracy for Busy People, lays out changes we can make to our system of elections and governance to make it easier for everyday citizens to participate more fully in our democracy. The disjointed system that we currently have in places puts up unnecessary barriers to participation, makes it harder for busy people to stay abreast of the issues, and can make participation seem overwhelming. The result is a democracy that works best for those with the time and resources to influence outcomes. He ends with the “very important message that everyone who does see politics as part of their calling, does see politics as an important part of their life… remember the people who weren’t there, they also matter, their voice matters, their interests matter.”

LISTENING TO

Designing an Investigation of Power: Series Introduction

Convergence Magazine

“Convergence is happy to announce the launch of our new podcast, Hegemonicon. In this first episode, host William Lawrence introduces himself with his story of working to build a youth-led climate movement as co-founder of the Sunrise Movement… Upon reminiscing the perceived successes and failures of that movement and the wilderness the past decade-plus has led [organizers] into, he lays out the foundation for the Hegemonicon’s exploration of power and how the show will go about investigating it through a series of interviews with organizers, activists, theorists, and more.”

Doing Democracy: Pride, Reckoning and Reimagining Our Nearly 250 Year Old System of Democracy

KQED Doing Democracy Series

Ted Johnson is leading the US@250 Project which is urging us to approach the [250th] anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, starting in 2026, by reimagining the American narrative with pride, reckoning and aspiration. “What parts of our democracy should we protect, what should we change, and what do we hope to become in the next 250 years?”

Our Sizzling Summer of Focus Groups

The Focus Group with Sarah Longwell podcast

While on summer hiatus, The Focus Group re-upped an old episode from March 2023 that is worth a listen with Jane Coaston of The New York Times about our never-ending culture wars. Sarah Longwell is the publisher of The Bulwark and this podcast takes a deep dive into what conservative voters think about politics, policy, and current events from the hundreds of hours of focus groups conducted around the country.

FOR FUN

Bridge-building Innovation Showcase

The Listen First Project

Sign up to watch the Bridgebuilding Innovation Showcase in October! “In today’s polarized climate, working across our differences to solve problems can feel hopeless. The Bridge-Building Innovation Showcase will celebrate Americans who are navigating generational, political, racial, and other differences to effect meaningful change in their own communities. The showcase has two parts: an in-person gathering in Kansas City on Oct 14, 2023 and a virtual webinar on Oct 19, 2023. Come for the celebration, stay for the inspiration!”

Today When I Could Do Nothing

by Jane Hirshfield

Acclaimed poet Jane Hirshfield is releasing her tenth book of poetry this fall, The Asking: New and Selected Poems where she shares sentiments of not-knowing, renewal, and awe of the natural world. Enjoy this specific poem “Today When I Could Do Nothing” included in her new collection.

THE VISTA: August 2023

As summer ends and we kick off the academic year here in the US, Horizons continues to grapple with the inherent tensions of different approaches taken within the broad ecosystem of social change. One clear fault line lies along a time horizons of gradual versus radical change. This is especially evident in the conversations unfolding about the linkages between capitalism and democracy. For example, this recent podcast with the Secretary-General of International IDEA and the chief economics commentator at the Financial Times was a fascinating discussion on needed reforms included in a new book about the Crisis of Democratic Capitalism. Whereas other conversations are unfolding about: radical new ways that humans might govern themselves that are less technocratic; totally new ways of envisioning our economic systems; and, how we might redefine concepts of security and perceptions of insecurity.

Another fault line is how we grapple with the ways that progressives should bridge across difference within social movements, while also appreciating what it will take to achieve a multi-racial, inclusive democracy in the US; and, the cultural and political change that can be achieved over time by movements like Black Lives Matter that is turning 10 this year.

We bring up these tensions not to seek definitive solutions, but rather to acknowledge that there are many entry points to this work, and what’s important is to be in conversation with each other, while looking for signals of the change we want to see in the world. This is why the practice of sensemaking is so important to the Horizons’ team, both internally and together with colleagues. We plan to share more of our own sensemaking practices externally, such as this short video amongst some of the Horizons team discussing the recent “Alabama brawl” and implications for how we think about incorporating a racial justice lens into our pro-democracy organizing.

Appreciation and respect to all our wonderful partners who engage in all this sensemaking with us! Enjoy these additional resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this month:

READING:

When Democracy Breaks: Studies in Democratic Erosion and Collapse, From Ancient Athens to the Present Day

Edited by Archon Fung, David Moss, & Odd Arne Westad

Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and The Tobin Project recently released this free online compendium analyzing the factors that make democracy resilient or fragile. “The volume’s collaborators…explore eleven episodes of democratic breakdown, ranging from ancient Athens to Weimar Germany to present-day Turkey, Russia, and Venezuela. Strikingly, in every case, various forms of democratic erosion long preceded the final democratic breakdown. Although no single causal factor emerges as decisive… some important commonalities (including extreme political polarization, explicitly anti-democratic political actors, and significant political violence) stand out across the cases. Moreover, the notion of democratic culture, while admittedly difficult to define and even more difficult to measure, may play a role in all of them.”

Down the Rabbit Hole: Demystifying QAnon Narratives and Networks

This is Signals

Reframe, alongside the Women’s March and Political Research Associates embarked on an 18-month journey “to unravel the connections between QAnon and Q-adjacent networks, their values, narratives, and the disinformation that surrounds it all. In an era where misinformation and conspiracy theories thrive, it’s imperative to understand the terrain so we can organize our communities to be better equipped to fight for a democratic future rooted in justice, equity, and liberation. By critically examining the values, messages, and narratives that emerge from these networks, we hope to encourage a nuanced understanding of their impact on our communities and shifting societal expectations of governance and democracy as a whole.”

15 College Presidents Unite to Advance Civic Preparedness Across the Country

by Rajiv Vinnakota, The Institute for Citizens & Scholars

A new consortium recently launched, the College Presidents for Civic Preparedness, made up of 15 college presidents with diverse perspectives across the political spectrum, but who agree that civic preparedness is essential to the academic experience and campus life. The consortium is also spearheading the Campus Call for Free Expression, a project to promote free expression on individual campuses, such as presidential speeches, training sessions, guest speakers, courses, and artistic endeavors. “The Campus Call embraces different viewpoints, focusing on upholding and advancing the principles of free expression and critical inquiry that are crucial in preparing young people to become empowered citizens.”

Populism Thrives Because People Are Mad, and Also Because They’re Sad

by Charles Lane, Washington Post Opinion

This article summarizes a recent study of social scientists: “Does Anger Drive Populism?” – answering in the affirmative, but with a major caveat. “Anger alone cannot account for recent US vote shifts in favor of populist candidates (of both the left and right). Rather, the trends reflect a wider mix of negative emotions such as sadness, stress, and worry… It’s a portrait of populism as an expression of dismay and disenchantment, not just resentment.”

WATCHING:

Next Frontiers – Unlocking Resources in This Time of Crisis and Possibility

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the UK has uploaded all the videos from their second annual conference, Next Frontiers. We would especially recommend the recording of this short presentation by Vanessa Andreotti discussing her new book Hospicing Modernity, where she explores four socially sanctioned forms of denial that our world is changing irrevocably. She describes the change using a metaphor of the House that Modernity Built and extols the need to go beyond reform because “more modernity is not an option, given the violence required to keep modernity in place.”

Belonging Design Principles with Ashley Gallegos

Othering & Belonging Institute

Check out this short, fun video with Ashley Gallegos, Belonging Coordinator at the Othering & Belonging Institute as she introduces their newly released Belonging Design Principles. “This distinct belonging framework includes a set of principles and practices that can root out structural inequality and exclusion of all kinds while helping us turn toward, rather than against, each other. Beyond a call for inclusion into pre-existing structures built to serve only some of us, belonging asks each of us to commit to co-creating new structures built for everyone.

Check My Ads with Claire Atkin

Fission’s DWeb Social

You can watch this short presentation about the AdTech watchdog Check My Ads Institute who are seeking to cut disinformation off at the source, acknowledging that bigotry and hate are fueled and funded around the world by the digital advertising industry. Co-founder, Claire Atkin recently published an article in the Harvard Business Review highlighting the proactive role businesses can play in protecting against democratic decline: Are Your Ads Funding Disinformation? “Propaganda thrives on money, ads, and data. Ad revenue helps propagandists multiply their efforts across networks of content across the web. Data enables propagandists to develop detailed user profiles that help them target people who are susceptible to lies and bigotry. Finally, the ads themselves — particularly those from blue-chip advertisers — lend signals of legitimacy to visitors to disinformation websites.”

LISTENING TO:

What the World Will Become

Podcast Series from The Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative

Check out all the podcasts in Season One in this series about humans from around the world who are dedicating their lives to building a more free and just world. We especially recommend Episode 6, The Making of a Democratic Community in an Authoritarian Landscape with Isabella Picón from Labo Ciudadano in Venezuela. The title of the series comes from abolitionist scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore: “What the world will become already exists in fragments and pieces, experiments and possibilities.”

Leveraging Networks for Democracy with the Leadership Now Project

Podcast from System Catalysts

Daniella Ballou-Aares, the CEO of the Leadership Now Project and her colleague, Anoop Prakash, the Wisconsin Chapter Lead, discuss the formation of a group of concerned businesses to launch the Leadership Now Project and the power of leveraging networks to protect and renew democracy in the US. The actions that businesses collectively took in Wisconsin during the 2020 election cycle, on a bipartisan basis offer a particularly important example of the proactive role the business community can and should play to uphold democratic norms and values.

Building Bridges Amid Division: Understanding America’s Conflict Dynamics

Peace: We Build It! Podcast from the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP)

In this podcast AfP Executive Director Liz Hume “discusses identity-based grievances, polarization, and social cohesion in the US. While conflict is inevitable, violent conflict is not, but it takes correct analysis of conflict drivers, resources, political will at all levels, and everyday people and communities working to prevent conflict and build sustainable peace. Liz welcomes three experts from across the political spectrum to discuss peacebuilding and conflict in the US” including Peter Coleman from Columbia University, Lisa Sharon Haper from Freedom.us, and Charles Lieske from Mediation West in Nebraska.

FOR FUN

A Strategic Analysis of Barbie: The Ideological Hegemony and Failed Revolution of Barbieland

by Lawrence Freedman, The New Statesman

“I want to be a part of the people that make meaning, not the thing that is made.” Barbie

This emeritus professor of war studies at Kings College writes, “all accounts of relationships between characters resembling humans raise issues of power and strategy, and Barbie is no exception. After all, to want to be part of “the people making meaning” could be a strategist’s creed.” So, Prof. Freedman delves into a wide-ranging strategic analysis of the movie Barbie. Spoiler alert – this article “may make little sense even if you have watched the movie but will make none at all if you have not and may contain sufficient information to spoil it if you intend to.”

THE VISTA: July 2023

The summer lull is in full swing in the US as July comes to a close, while we grapple with rising temperatures and guard our energies for the 2024 electoral cycle. We’re all going to need that energy, as we are faced with polls that describe the rising acceptance of political violence, and that “gut-level hatred” is consuming our political lives. Horizons is committed to continuing to work with those who are actively trying to prevent violence and acts of hate being fueled by a clear political agenda. And we find inspiration and hope from the myriad organizing efforts throughout the country.  

The global nature of the authoritarian threat continues to animate our work. Check out, Chief Organizer Maria Stephan’s article in Ha’aretz about pro-democracy protests in Israel and the relationship between Israeli democracy and Palestinian self-determination. Also, registration is now open for the next Othering & Belonging Conference, taking place in Berlin in October. Please join Horizons and others as we reflect on global strategies for countering the far-right and bolstering democracy. 

As you go into August, we hope you find a space for deep rest, and reflect on the role that conflict transformation and listening skills play in all our relational organizing. There are several resources to help, such as this summer survival kit of conflict hacks from Amanda Ripley; and, this summer reading list and overview of the listening arts. If you haven’t checked out our friend Brett Davidson’s writings on how deep narrative work also requires deep listening, don’t miss his recent missive on the meanings of listening.  

It’s an exciting month for Horizons as we welcome a new member of the team, Jarvis Williams who just joined us as Director for Applied Research. Read more about Jarvis and hear directly from him why he agrees with the power of listening for transforming relations and building deep partnerships. Welcome Jarvis!  We also have openings for Research Assistants to work with Jarvis and the team, as we partner with the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University on research related to the pillars of support for authoritarianism and democracy. Please help us forward the announcement to any students you know who may be interested.  

We hope you enjoy the additional resources we’ve been reading, watching and listening to this month: 

READING 

Doing the Work While Doing The Work 

by Samhita Mukhopadhyay, The Nation 

“How can social justice organizations prioritize mental health issues while finding ways for their staff and members to stay in solidarity with each other? As we work to undo the legacies of racism and oppression, we are often facing a history of unresolved trauma—our own, and the histories of those we work with… Incorporating trauma-informed perspectives and general mental health awareness has sprouted up in many different places in an effort to counter narratives that we should ignore or override these feelings… But connecting the dots between social justice work and trauma history doesn’t automatically confer the necessary tools to deal with it.” This article is full of wisdom and resources from many leaders showing that prioritizing mental health while also finding ways to remain in solidarity with each other are not necessarily in opposition. 

Is Tennessee a Democracy? 

by Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic 

Anne Applebaum explores the current context in Tennessee from her perspective of reporting on the decade-long democratic decline and rise of one-party rule in Poland and Hungary. “…the cascade of tiny legal and procedural changes designed to create an unlevel playing field, the ruling party’s inexplicable sense of grievance, the displaced moderates with nowhere to go—this [does] seem familiar from other places. So [is] the sense that institutional politics has become performative, somehow separated from real life…Today, Tennessee is a model of one-party rule… Nor will the situation be easy to change, because gerrymandering is something of a blood sport in the state… [And] Getting people to vote is not so easy, either, because Tennessee has some of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws.”  

Why We Shouldn’t Give Up on Organized Religion 

by Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times Opinion 

Check out this interview with Eboo Patel, an American Muslim and founder and president of Interfaith America, a nonprofit that aims to promote cooperation across religious differences. Patel discusses his latest book, “We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracyand speaks about religious identity, diversity and institutions in America.  

More than Red and Blue: Political Parties and American Democracy 

The American Political Science Association (APSA) & Protect Democracy 

APSA and Protect Democracy partnered to support the APSA Presidential Task Force on Political Parties to synthesize decades of research on political parties and what they do in democracies. Key insights include: (1) the current campaign environment, from campaign finance regulations to changes in media, have made it harder for political parties to fulfill their roles; (2) American political parties are easy to join, opening them to new voices and interests but also leaving them vulnerable to capture by those with authoritarian objectives; (3) Racial realignment between the major parties has been growing for decades, changing the way the parties see the political landscape and their incentives for action; and (4) political parties are vital to modern democracy and reform efforts should take their essential roles seriously. 

WATCHING: 

Can We Transform Our Politics? 

Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Braver Angels Convention 

Governor Cox is well known for the public service announcement with his rival candidate, Democratic candidate Chris Peterson during the 2020 race for governor. Research has shown that watching the “One Nation” ad reduced viewers support for undemocratic practices, such as forgoing democratic principles for partisan gain or using violence against members of another party. Check out Governor Cox’s keynote address at the recent Braver Angels Convention in Gettysburg.  

Why Did “Woke” Go from Black to Bad? 

The Legal Defense Fund 

To some, the word “woke” is now a derisive stand-in for diversity, inclusion, empathy and Blackness. When legislators pass a law to “stop woke” in light of the word’s true history as well as its commonly understood meaning, what are they really saying? Check out this recent article by Keecee DeVenny on American Redefined, How Language is Weaponized. “Make no mistake, the linking of discussions of systemic oppression, race, gender expression, and sexual orientation with “anti-American” sentiments is intentional. It’s an attempt to redefine and reclassify who gets to call themselves American, regardless of their relationship to the country.” 

The Resurgence of the ‘Oldest Hatred’: The Effort to Combat Antisemitism 

Aspen Ideas Festival 

“Antisemitic incidents are on the rise in the United States, leaving Jewish communities feeling vulnerable — a sentiment both new and sadly familiar. Among the responses is the first ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, released by the White House, advocating a whole-of-society approach because all of us are affected by hate and it takes all of us to fight it.” Moderated by Katie Couric, this Aspen Ideas Festival panel features Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Eric Ward from Race Forward and Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall from Harvard’s Belfer Center. 

LISTENING TO:  

Advancing Just, Multiracial Democracy with john a. powell 

Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast 

“On this episode, Julie Nelson, Senior Vice President of Programs at Race Forward and john a. powell, Director, Othering and Belonging Institute, come together in a conversation inspired by the recent essay they co-authored, “Advancing Just, Multiracial Democracy.”  They explore the role local municipalities can play in not only defending against “democratic backsliding,” but also in expanding the very nature of democracy, which is critical with the global rise of authoritarianism and nationalism. Julie and john’s work rests on the idea that local governments are uniquely situated to turn grim situations built on “othering” into a global movement grounded in racial justice and belonging.”  

Are ESG Investors Actually Helping the Environment? 

Freakonomics Podcast 

Economist Kelly Shue argues that ESG investing gives more money to firms that are already green while depriving polluting firms of financing that they need to get greener. But she offers a solution, which is to take an engagement strategy with corporations and build power from the inside for change. As the debate about ESG continues to rage, we found this a nuanced conversation in line with our approach to the business pillar within a pro-democracy movement that requires both strategic engagement and pressure tactics. 

Making Reparations a Reality: Blazing a Trail to Racial Repair with Trevor Smith 

Let’s Hear It Podcast! 

Check out this thought-provoking episode with Trevor Smith, the Director of Narrative Change at Liberation Ventures. Trevor is a writer, researcher, and editor of the newsletter – Reparations Daily (ish). During the interview Trevor discusses the growing movement calling for reparations as a catalyst for true racial repair. He invites reflection on how we can all work toward a new narrative of reparations, and how we can create a democracy that is inclusive, empathetic, and centered on principles of justice. 

FOR FUN 

This is Real! Premiere Performance at the 22CI Conference: Forging a People Powered Democracy 

The 22CI conference came to a close earlier this month with a joyful performance of a brand new song crafted during one of the sessions, “Developing a Collective Poetic Voice to Address Authoritarianism Thru Songwriting,” under the direction of Jane Sapp, a musician and cultural worker at Let’s Make a Better World and Cindy Cohen, Emerita of Brandeis University and former Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts. Special thanks to the members of the “This is Real Ensemble” – Destiny Williams, Jeralyn Cave, Penny Rosenwasser, and Molly O’Connor. You guys rocked it.