TALBOT —Two Eastern Shore residents, a Republican and a Democrat, are looking for other reds and blues who want to talk with people of different political opinions in a respectful way. Pat Ingram and Nancy Andrew, volunteers with Better Angels, are hosting a day-long Red-Blue workshop in Easton on November 2, 2019.
Better Angels is a national organization formed in 2016 after the Presidential election by folks who felt that the divide between red and blue Americans had become so severe that we were headed for civic breakdown. In response, they developed a series of facilitated workshops organized by citizens in their own communities including their signature Red-Blue session.
“We’re both concerned about the growing polarization even here on the Shore,” says Ingram. “Better Angels gives us a way to start a conversation.”
In Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861, with the nation on the brink of civil war, he urged that Americans hold onto their common bonds and appealed to the ‘better angels of our nature.’ His words resonate now more than ever when talking about politics seems almost taboo. “Maybe we’re not really as different as we’ve been told we are.”
To date, more than 400 workshops have taken place around the U.S. Participant feedback shows they’re helping people on both sides decrease stereotyped thinking and develop more trust in our hope for the common good. From Fox News to CNN along with other national and local media outlets, reports on the Red-Blue workshop have been supportive, often with a common theme: there’s such a need for this.
“Neither of us is out to change anyone’s minds,” notes Andrew. The two hosted the first such workshop on the Eastern Shore this past April. “Those who came as conservatives or Republicans left the same. Likewise with the liberal, progressive, Democratic participants.” The workshop is structured to help attendees listen to one another rather than argue the virtue of their views.
Those interested in being part of this civic experiment may visit the Better Angels website https://www.better-angels.org/event/day-long-red-blue-workshop-easton-md/or contact the organizers: Pat Ingram at [email protected] and Nancy Andrew at [email protected] workshop format requires an equal number of self-identifying red and blue participants. In particular, additional red participants are needed so that the workshop can run. Community members can also take part as observers.