Albany Times Union, November 19, 2018
A group of 14 Capital Region people who came together for a day late last month to learn strategies for bridging the political divide were so inspired by the experience that they plan to spread the lessons further.
A new organization called Better Angels Capital Region NYS Alliance has been formed to give an ongoing local presence the national Better Angels, a not-for-profit founded in 2016 with a commitment to “reduce political polarization in the United States by bringing liberals and conservatives together to understand each other beyond stereotypes,” according to its mission statement.
Better Angels held a seven-hour workshop at the main branch of the Guilderland Public Library on Oct. 27. Seven people who identified with the “red,” or conservative political side, took part, as did an equal number of liberal-minded “blues” and even more observers. Participants engaged in a workshop and “skills class” format devised by Better Angels; all committed to truly listening to others who believe differently about profoundly held issues and to speaking in helpful, constructive ways to address those differences.
“It was an amazingly good experience,” said Christine Primomo, 68, of Ravena, a self-described pragmatic progressive who was part of the Oct. 27 workshop. “To see that there are so many of us who have more in common than not, even those who were skeptical coming in, was really terrific.
All 14 reds and blues agreed to help form the local Better Angels alliance. They have already held a follow-up planning meeting, and an introductory session, free and open to the public, is scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at the main branch of Guilderland library for those interested in hearing more and perhaps joining the alliance. A more expansive workshop to teach Better Angels strategies is planned for 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at Albany Public Library. Full details and registration opportunities for the later session will be available at the Nov. 29 meeting.details can filled in if/when they come in.
Primomo hopes others who live locally will attend to learn some of what the initial group did at that first meeting in October.
“(It was) hard work, but everyone agreed we need to continue the process,” Primomo said. “It was incredibly uplifting for all who attended.”