Just before Thanksgiving 2019, 15 people — conservatives, liberals and independents — gathered together in Bruce Calvert’s home in Westminster and voted to form the Carroll County Braver Angels Alliance (BA-CC). Our parent organization, Braver Angels, is a national nonpartisan nonprofit (braverangels.org) that was created shortly after the 2016 election, by citizens concerned about the increasingly polarized tone of political discourse in the U. S.
The 15 of us in Bruce’s living room had recently finished up a two-part, six-hour “Red-Blue” workshop held over two Saturdays at local churches. The aim of the Red-Blue workshop is to bring together people with different political views — conservative and liberal — to share their beliefs, and, through a moderated conversation, search for commonalities. “You look for the glue, for that which binds,” says William Doherty, a marriage and family therapist, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, and one of the group’s co-founders, who designed the workshop.
A Braver Angels local alliance is made up of approximately half conservatives/Republicans (Reds), liberals/Democrats (Blues), as well as a smattering of those who identify as Independents (Purples). The alliance must have both a Red and a Blue co-chair, and all members must belong to the Braver Angels national organization ($12 a year). Members have free access to a wealth of Braver Angels resources, including printed literature, webinars, debates, and various workshop formats available. On-line resources include a 40-minute “Depolarization from Within” webinar, Zoom platform skills workshops, Zoom Debates, and 1:1 structured conversations between two people who have very different life experiences or perspectives. Right now the 1:1 conversation format supports Red/Blue; Urban/Rural; and Black/White conversations.
MB Brainerd, the BA-CC Blue Co-chair, was drawn to Braver Angels when she saw how politics were dividing her family, her church, and her friends, even spouses, one from the other. Paul Ledbetter, the Red Co-Chair, remembers a political environment in which opposing parties worked together in respectful cooperation, particularly on local issues. Eager to build additional leadership, in January 2020 we formed a steering committee of 2 Reds, 2 Blues and 2 Purples and organized a Braver Angels skills workshop held at the Taneytown branch library in March, just before public gatherings were shut down by COVID-19. Thanks to the national organization, we’re now reaching Carroll County online.
Just in time for your holiday family gatherings, Carroll County Braver Angels Alliance is sponsoring a free (open to non-members) Braver Angels Families & Politics Zoom workshop on Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to noon,, designed to provide guidance and practice sessions for people who want to engage family members by productively listening to and sharing differing political views. This workshop gives participants:
1. A deeper understanding of why family differences over politics are uniquely challenging.
2. Insight into the common roles that family members play in political conversations.
3. Strategies and skills for dealing with family political differences in a constructive way.
Join us on Dec 5! You can register here at https://tinyurl.com/y67xdx4q and visit our BA-CC Facebook page to find out more on how we all can help depolarize America.
MB Brainerd (“Blue”) and Paul Ledbetter (“Red”) are the co-chairs of the Braver Angels Alliance Carroll County.
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