THE VISTA: May 2024

As May comes to a close, the world has been mourning the recent civilian deaths in Rafah, and the US has been grappling with the many student protest movements on college campuses around the country in the face of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. You can learn more about how these campus protests fit within the larger movement from Harvard University’s Crowd Counting Consortium; and read about the nuance of the specific words that are being used by protesters and counter-protesters. There are lessons to be learned from the colleges that successfully reached an agreement with the protesters; and, these insights from a professor of peacebuilding and conflict transformation at Columbia University. And don’t miss this historic overview of the role that campus protests have played in the US.

Eric Ward from Race Forward gave an interview that you can watch here on the worrying new fault lines in the US civil rights community, “with people taking ‘sides’ and judging others for their positions, rather than focusing on Middle East crisis solutions.” And if you want to hear directly from grassroots leaders in the region, check out the many resources from Just Vision.

Issues of repair continue to animate discussions within many organizing spaces, including this reflection on Building a Reparative Organization and Nation and this inspiring interview with Heather McGhee on helping people make meaning in this moment, and the need for reparations as “seed capital for the nation we are becoming.” There are also on-going conversations about how to design the future of our democracy, such as this overview of the Democracy Makers at the recent Futures Happening conference of the Stanford design school. You can also learn more about the tools of becoming better ancestors from this recent report by the School of International Futures – Future Designs. Speaking of the future, Choose Democracy recently released an interactive, virtual on-line scenario planning tool What if Trump (or Biden) Wins? we recommend you check out.

Finally, as we go into the Pride celebrations next month, we invite you to read up on the relationship between authoritarianism and anti-LGBTQ violence, including this excellent resource by Over Zero on Decoding LGBTQ Scapegoating. We have many lessons to learn from these dynamics and others of closing civic space in the US and around the world, and you can re-watch Horizons’ Chief Organizer, Maria Stephan’s recent remarks at the Kettering Foundation’s virtual event on Recognizing and Countering Global Authoritarian Trends.

We hope you enjoy some of the other resources we have been reading, watching, and listening to this month:


Don’t Believe What They’re Telling You About Misinformation
by Manvir Singh, The New Yorker

This article provides a lot of food for thought if you work on dis/misinformation, or other aspects of deep narrative. “…many beliefs are not best interpreted as factual ones…a major driver is group identity. Beliefs often function as badges: the stranger and more unsubstantiated the better…. “symbolic beliefs” are socially strategic expressions – signaling group identity. Our minds are maintaining two representations of reality: there’s one that feels true and that we publicly advocate, and there’s another that we use to effectively interact with the world. By declaring that the problem consists of “irresponsible senders and gullible receivers,” [we] risk ignoring the social pathologies that cause people to become disenchanted and motivate them to rally around strange new creeds.”

Love is the Key to Democracy
by Michael McAfee, Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)

“It’s within our power to make these futures a reality and to build a country where “We, the People” truly includes all people—but only if we do the work of transformative love. It is our generational work to perfect this democracy and realize this ideal. The journey begins with critical self-reflection: Where am I not loving the people enough? Where can I be part of the disruption necessary to transform this country as we know it? How can I be receptive to accountability? How can I transform the institution I’m part of to cultivate this possibility? Through this work of transformative love, we can build a nation that serves all for the first time. As that practice of love expands outward, we will begin to see the fruits of such a journey in a flourishing democracy that works for all.” This article is a part of a new series from SSIR in partnership with PolicyLink on Realizing a Multiracial Democracy For All. You can check out the other articles in the series here.

The Holistic Paradigm as Democracy’s Evolutionary Frontier (part 1)
by Andy Paice

This long read, divided into two parts, is worth your time. In part one the reflection is on “our dominant cultural paradigm and its destructive consequences; the fact that there’s an emerging, more holistic worldview that is more aligned with reality and therefore more able to address humanity’s crises; the state of democracy in 2024 and a burgeoning field of democratic innovation; and the indications that this field belongs to a new holistic cultural paradigm.” Part two delves into: “future developments that might be needed for governance and collective decision making to embrace these deeper realities; and, the projects [of] the Co-Intelligence Institute to help catalyse a cultural shift.”


adrienne maree brown on Instagram

We are big fans of adrienne maree brown at Horizons and this short Instagram video (their love note from their living room on May Day) is a very powerful message – reminding everyone to continuously take responsibility for your own contribution to liberation. Do you find yourself feeling judgmental about the way other people are working for change? “there’s enough problem to go around, be solution material. what am i willing and able to risk? who are my people? the sweet spot is: what my community needs x what i enjoy doing well x what am i skilled at?”

Democracy Lab: Lessons in Exercising Your Voice

“Healthy democracies rely on informed citizens. Quality civics education is the bedrock of a healthy democratic society. Through curated content and supporting lesson materials, Democracy Lab lays out the building blocks of a healthy democracy, while explaining the challenges it can face, the solutions we must explore, and the exciting initiatives already helping strengthen democratic principles around the world.” Check out this fun series of videos that were developed in consultation with a group of young civic innovators together with Civics Unplugged Fellows and the Citizen University Youth Collaboratory.

Principles First: Our Obligation
Principles First

Horizons knows from research that the most successful pro-democracy movements are cross-ideological, and we support the organizing that is taking place amongst pro-democracy conservatives. “In 2019, principled Americans on the right and center-right who were concerned about the health of American democracy organized a series of meet-ups around the country to serve as an alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference. Today, that movement has grown into Principles First – a nationwide grassroots movement of people who share a love of American democracy and concern for the direction of our existing conservative leadership. [They] convene local chapters to effect change at the community level…and elevate principled leaders around the country.” This short video overviews their recent 2024 Annual Summit.


Reimagining Democracy for a Good Life
PolicyLink’s Podcast Series

“In the struggle to build a more perfect union, there is a through line from resistance to creation, from rebellion to invention.” – Angela Glover Blackwell. You don’t want to miss this new podcast series: “Democracy isn’t dead. It just needs to be reimagined so that all of us can flourish. To think big, we’re going to have to go granular to the city level – and that city is LA. We will look at how Los Angeles is striving to be a multiracial democracy and what lessons we can apply to the rest of the nation. [This] podcast aims to infuse some hope into one of the founding principles of the United States.”

Resourcing Narrative Ecosystems
What Donors Want podcast

Mandy Van Deven and Jody Myrum dive into what a narrative ecosystem is and why it’s important; how philanthropy can effectively support narratives of liberations; and, the case for supporting narrative ecosystems and what is at stake. There are many brilliant lessons shared and also a lot of great resources in the notes section if you want to dig into the topic of narratives more.

The Art of Organizing with Marshall Ganz
Say More with Tulaine Montgomery Podcast

“Organizing people seems easier in the digital age, right? Just send out a blast email or create a Facebook group. [Tulaine’s guest], Marshall Ganz, believes to achieve real social change, we need to do much more than that. For him, the art of organizing involves sharing our unique stories and connecting at a unifying, human level.”


Introducing: Poems as Teachers
Poetry Unbound Podcast Series

Check out this beautiful series of poems that can teach us to move differently in the world. “Host Pádraig Ó Tuama gives an overview of this Poetry Unbound mini season that’s devoted to poems with wisdom to offer about conflict and humanity. He also brings us Wisława Szymborska’s “A Word on Statistics,” which covers statistics of the most human kind — like the number of people in a group of 100 who think they know better, who can admire without envy, or who could do terrible things. Listen, and ask yourself: Which categories do I belong to? Which do I believe?”