THE VISTA: October 2022

As the mid-term elections in the United States are fast approaching, check out this recent article from Horizons’ Chief Network Weaver, Julia Roig, on How to Rise Above Partisan Politics to Uphold Our Democracy. Horizons also recently released new resources by our new Director for Applied Research, Jonathan Pinckney on making Political Violence Backfire and lessons in building a United Front Against Authoritarianism. If you missed our webinar on Facilitating and Training in Cross-Sector Movements: Turbo-Charging Efforts for Coordination and Collaboration, you can read more and watch the recording here.

This past month saw several important initiatives and resources for bridging across political divides. A new United States Institute of Peace report summarizes global learning on what makes for effective “social contact” programming, including three categories of participant behaviors. Additionally, a team of researchers recently released Cultivating Contact: A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups. Stanford University’s Strengthening Democracy Challenge released the learning from the top 25 strategies that are seeking to reduce partisan animosity, political violence and curb antidemocratic attitudes. (Congratulations to our friends at Beyond Conflict for submitting the winning short video!) And finally, if you haven’t visited the essays page at Beyond Intractability, it also includes several insights from various authors on how the conflict resolution field can help address “hyper polarization.”

Check out some of the other inspiring resources Horizons is reading, watching, and listening to:


Five Strategies to Support U.S. Democracy

by Rachel Kleinfeld, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

This important report describes the current threat, actions that are less likely to make a meaningful difference and prescribes five concrete strategies to support U.S. democracy: (1) Enable responsible conservatives to vote for democracy; (2) Reduce the social demand from the right for illiberal policies and politicians; (3) Engage the left in defending democracy by making it deliver; (4) Build a broad-based, multistranded, prodemocracy movement around a positive vision concretized in locally rooted action; and (5) Strengthen accountability to reset norms on what behavior is legal and acceptable.

How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step

by Ellen Barry, The New York Times

A story of how feminism and the 2017 Women’s March became a clear target for an intense on-line disinformation campaign, taking advantage of existing fissures within the movement. Efforts to destabilize civil society activism by well-resourced (often state-backed) sabotage campaigns are on the rise, and particularly effective when combined with algorithms that promote negative content, in this case pumping up intersectional critiques of feminism and attacking organizers.

The Uncomfortable Truths That Could Yet Defeat Fascism

by Anand Giridharadas, The New York Times

This column nicely summarizes what we have been discussing with various partners recently. Giridharadas outlines steps needed for pro-democracy forces to succeed – to Command Attention, Make Meaning, Meet People Where They Are, Pick Fights, Provide a Home, and Tell the Better Story.

American Democracy is Indeed Shuddering Under Its Own Weight

by Jason Willick, The Washington Post

This article gives on overview of a recent study by Danish academic Suthan Krishnarajan that posits that the threat to U.S. democracy isn’t a “usurper system,” but democratic ideology itself. The findings show that citizens who “self-consciously support democracy can simultaneously support undemocratic actions on a large scale when it suits their political interests — and not recognize the contradiction.”

Media 2070: An invitation to Dream Up Media Reparations

This 100-page essay details “the history of U.S. media participation in anti-Black racism written by a growing consortium of media-makers and activists collectively dreaming reparative policies, interventions, and futures. This work is an effort to radically transform who has the capital to tell their own stories by 2070. It is liberation work within a lineage of civil-rights activism, racial-justice organizing and calls for reparations and makes visible the ways in which the media have taken part in and have supported state violence and harm against Black people. The work seeks to highlight how the media can serve as a lever for racial justice — and underscores the repair and reconciliation necessary to build strong, free, democratic communities.”


Our Stories. Our Stake.

by Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)

Don’t miss this short video from SURJ, that tells the story of the largest organization explicitly organizing white communities in the U.S. “In a sense, the battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and minds of white people in this country. The fight against racism is not something we’re called on to help people of color with. We need to become involved as if our lives depended on it because, in truth, they do.” – Anne Braden

Inside the Completely Legal G.O.P Plot to Destroy American Democracy

by Johnny Harris and Michelle Cottle, The New York Times Editorial Board

“It can be difficult to gauge what stories suggest a truly terrifying threat to democracy, and which are simply disheartening or even petty. This Opinion Video aims to unpack one of the direst threats to democracy, which includes a sophisticated plot to control not only who can vote, but which votes get counted.”

The Impact of Misinformation on the Future of American Democracy

by the Atlantic Festival

You can re-watch this informative, in-person series of presentations from The Atlantic Festival, where several experts dissect sources of misinformation and discuss how to decipher facts versus fiction while preserving our right to free speech.

Futures Literacy: Shaping Your Present by Reimagining Futures

by Loes Damhof, TEDx Talk

If you’re a Ted Talk fan, this is a great short discussion on Futures Literacy. “The future does not exist; we can only imagine it.” By expanding how we imagine futures, we can see the present differently and learn how to embrace uncertainty by developing new skills, knowledge, and attitudes to keep going in an uncertain future.


Come Along as We Connect the Dots Between Climate, Migration, and the Far-Right

by Ari Shapiro, NPR

A team of reporters at All Things Considers introduce their travel log series as they seek to uncover the ways in which these three broad themes weave together. What is the connection between climate change, the movement of people around the globe, and the rise of xenophobic politicians?

Thinking Truth and Freedom with Zelens’kyi and Havel

by Timothy Snyder, Substack

Timothy Snyder posted on his Substack newsletter a long conversation with President Zelens’kyi of Ukraine entirely devoted to the subject of freedom, including a reflection on the tradition of the dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s, and in particular Václav Havel’s idea of “living in truth.”

What if Indigenous Wisdom Could Save the World?

by the What If to What Next Podcast

This is an older episode, where Sherri Mitchell, Weh’na Ha’mu’ Kwasset (She Who Brings the Light) an attorney, activist, and author of ‘Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-based Change’ has a wonderful conversation with Tyson Yunkaporta, an academic, arts critic, and senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University in Melbourne. His recent book, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World.



This is a very special read: a translation of recent writing from an feminist activist in Iran. “…what distinguishes this uprising as feminist is this figure-centered character; the possibility of creating images that do not necessarily capture the intensity of conflict, the cruelty of repression, or the unfolding of events, but instead carry the history of bodies.”