In The News

USA Today

I signed up to participate in America Talks for two primary reasons. One, I was curious about the experience. Two, I am concerned about the future of a nation whose people “have grown hateful toward opposing partisans based more on a religion-like social identity than on actual disagreements about policies.”

So, sitting in my house on a muggy Midwestern Saturday, I found myself conversing with a stranger named David from the Pacific Northwest about climate change, immigration, the news media and economic opportunity.

The Washington Post

Kicking off a National Week of Conversation, the goal of America Talks is to engage at least 10,000 “conversation participants” through the magic of video conferencing in one-on-one, face-to-face dialogues based on political differences. “Each conversation will provide a repairing stitch to America’s frayed social fabric, as participants shift perspective from ‘us and them’ to ‘you and me,’ ” according to the program description. Signups are happening now.

AP News

NEW YORK (AP) — The conversation between Brian Roy and Brian Webb felt, at first, like a blind date. In the same way, the people who brought them together hope that it’s the start of something.

They were participants in an effort backed by the media company Gannett to get people with opposing political views to talk with each other, part of a “National Week of Conversation” sponsored by democracy-oriented groups that is ending this weekend.

Read More at AP News

USA Today

Living from fear and living from love are very different things.

Fear closes our hearts. Love opens them. Fear despairs. Love hopes. Fear shouts. Love listens. Fear has to be right. Love is willing to be wrong. Fear thinks the other side must lose for our side to win. Love knows we win together.

Our country is being fractured by fear. We fear rapid and massive change we cannot control. We fear economic instability. We fear leaders, laws and systems that deny our full humanity. We fear a culture that demeans us and the values we hold dear. We fear the damage we are doing to the natural world. Increasingly, we fear each other. 

Read More at USA Today

Public News Service

Coming off a contentious election in 2020, the United States feels, to some, as divided as it has been in recent memory. But organizations want to bridge the gap through conversation.

America Talks, a two-day event talking place this weekend, kicks off the National Week of Conversation. America Talks will pair people up via video so that they can discuss their differences.

Read More at Public News Service

USA Today

The late comedian Joan Rivers often quipped, “Can we talk?” If her catchphrase was asked today, it might be met with a resounding “No,” as 62% of Americans fear expressing deep opinions with people – even family, friends and colleagues – who hold opposing ideological or political perspectives. 

During a career spanning more than 30 years, including six as a presidential appointee running an agency with partisan-charged support and opposition, I experienced many anxious moments anticipating a discussion with someone who I knew opposed my views or criticized my decisions.

Public News Service

NEW YORK — The inaugural “America Talks” event begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday, as part of an effort to heal social and political divisions that have driven a wedge between people with different viewpoints.

Thousands of Americans will take part in the mass video-chat event, which marks the start of the fourth annual National Week of Conversation.

Cheryl Hughes is a co-organizer of the event and a nonprofit consultant from Greenville, Ohio. She is a self-described liberal, and says it’s important to reach across the aisle.

The Fulcrum

The ever-growing democracy reform movement is built around the idea that the American democracy is in trouble because the system is broken. Those with money have an outsized influence on politics. Ballot access is far from equal. Politicians get to pick their voters, rather than the other way around.

That’s why, in 2019, I helped launch The Fulcrum, a nonprofit news platform dedicated to coverage of efforts to fix the system. As my then boss, Issue One’s Nick Penniman, preaches, government’s policy dysfunction cannot be addressed until the political dysfunction is first resolved

USA TODAY

America needs to talk. And will as never before during America Talks and the National Week of Conversation (June 14-20).

Abraham Lincoln, quoting Jesus, said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” They weren’t playing. More than half of us (54%) now say our fellow Americans pose the biggest threat to the country.

Read More at USA Today

Public News Service

The National Week of Conversation is designed to counteract the kind of vitriol often found on social media, and introduce people to those with differing views. Organizers are asking people to choose courage over contempt and reject the hostility that leads to political gridlock that hampers efforts to tackle the big issues.

Ron McFarland from Denver, Colorado is a retired teacher who describes himself as a fiscal conservative and moderate Republican. He said he’s taken heat for his views.

“There’s so much hurt, so much polarization and divide in the country,” said McFarland. “But for me, it’s ‘Go, America!'”

Read More at Public News Service

USA Today

A movement is underway to unite America. Across the land, bridge-building organizations, conscience-driven journalists and voices in the tech space are looking for ways for Americans to build anew the bonds of trust that make earnest democracy possible.

These are people who love America. The work of unity is a patriotic endeavor. But it is incumbent upon those of us who would take up this cause to recognize that one source of the division that plagues us is the language of patriotism itself.

Read More at USA Today

Palm Springs Desert Sun

America needs to talk. And will as never before during America Talks and the National Week of Conversation (June 14-20).

Abraham Lincoln, quoting Jesus, said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” They weren’t playing. More than half of us (54%) now say our fellow Americans pose the biggest threat to the country.

Read More at Palm Springs Desert Sun

Public News Service

America Talks kicks off the fourth annual National Week of Conversation, in which people on all sides of the political spectrum discuss the issues of the day in a respectful manner.

Kristin Hansen, executive director of the Civic Health Project in Palo Alto and a co-organizer of Saturday’s event, said this country needs to lower personal hostilities and break the government gridlock.

“It can feel difficult if not impossible to bridge the divide, and we can feel really tempted to give up or not even try,” she said. “However, this puts America on a really precarious path, because we then increasingly fall into the trap of seeing each other as less than fully human.”

USA Today

In so many arenas of American life, we laud those who demonstrate a “fighting spirit” – our athletes, our business leaders, our movement builders, our politicians. 

We have deeply internalized the belief that “some things are just worth fighting for.” 

After all, hasn’t America secured its greatest achievements when brave people stood up and fought – for independence, for the end of slavery, for civil rights, for freedom abroad?

The Hill

In this era of polarization, one is uncomfortably reminded of what Abraham Lincoln warned against back in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Just a few years later, it took a bloody war to keep America united.  

So now, in our time, let’s hope that the divisions in our national house can be repaired — peacefully. 

The Columbus Dispatch

Amid political rancor and COVID consternation, we as a society have endured a lot of shouting in the past year and not enough listening.

A good conversation involves at least as much listening as talking, and we at The Dispatch are among those who want to do more listening.

The Fulcrum

More than ever, Americans are concerned about political polarization. Public Agenda’s most recent Hidden Common Ground survey found that 93 percent of Americans say it is important to reduce divisiveness in the United States. Over one-third say that partisan divisiveness has affected their personal lives. 
 

USA Today

Would you like to help be a part of helping to bridge political divides in our polarized nation? 

Then USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network would like to invite you to take part in America Talks, a virtual event bringing thousands of Americans together across political differences.

Read More at USA Today

USA TODAY

In an effort to foster productive dialogue, USA TODAY is partnering with the #ListenFirst Coalition for a two-day event creating one-on-one virtual discussions among thousands of Americans with different points of view.

Participants 18 and older will be matched with a conversation partner for conversations over June 12 and 13. The #ListenFirst Coalition includes more than 300 organizations across the country.

Read More at USA Today

PRESS RELEASE

May 18, 2021 (McLean, VA) – Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), announced today a partnership with the #ListenFirst Coalition and My Country Talks to foster connection and provide an
opportunity for Americans to have honest, respectful and meaningful conversations. America Talks is a two-day virtual event taking place June 12 and 13, 2021. All Americans 18 and older
are encouraged to register for the event, which enables open dialogue among individuals who have differing perspectives.

Read the full Press Release