Better Angels' Fall Tour Comes to Tennessee
Bipartisan nonprofit to bring liberals and conservatives together for depolarization workshops
Jackson, TN — Better Angels will bring together liberals and conservatives throughout the state of Tennessee this week for workshops designed to help Americans clarify disagreements, reduce stereotyped thinking, and build the relationships needed to find common ground.
This week's workshops include stops at Union University in Jackson and Nashville. Interested members of the press should reach out to Better Angels’ Director of Public Engagement Ciaran O’Connor for details to observe the workshop and watch this video to get a sense of a Better Angels workshop in action.
Launched in 2016, Better Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement to unify America. By bringing red and blue Americans together into a working alliance, Better Angels is building new ways to talk to one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation.
Last month, four liberals and four conservatives from the state came together to pen a joint op-ed in the Tennessean about their experience in a Better Angels workshop.
"Reflecting on our experience, our group agrees we don’t want to be enemies. We want to understand and respect each other," they wrote. "We hope that through more dialogues and workshops like this, we can learn to live better with each other."
On its last tour, Better Angels visited 15 communities around the country, leading workshops that brought reds and blues together and taught skills for talking across the divide (see coverage in The Washington Post). On this tour, they've already visited Virginia and North Carolina—and trained over 100 citizen moderators (see coverage in CityLab and The Daily Caller).
“At a time of such extreme polarization and rancor, Better Angels is bringing people together face to face—not to just debate the issues, but to better understand each others’ perspectives and bridge our widening divide,” said David Blankenhorn, President of Better Angels.
Recent polls show that a majority of Americans feel our country is more divided than ever, and increasingly view members of the opposite political party as not just wrong—but bad people. At the same time, Americans are increasingly divided into bubbles and echo chambers with limited exposure to “the other side,” consuming news that confirms their opinions and stereotypes.
By creating opportunities for meaningful discussions, Better Angels works to dial down the heated rhetoric that gets in the way of real conversations and accurate understanding of our differences. The objective is not to push an agenda or change participant’s minds, but rather toprovide a safe place for deeper understanding.
“It smashes a lot of the stereotypes of what one group or another group is supposed to be," said Julie Sparks, a Republican who participated in a Better Angels workshop in Lebanon, Ohio.
"If more people had this experience, I think maybe our country could come back together and understand, it's okay to have opposing ideas,” said Andie Moon, a Democrat.