June 20-23, 2019 in St. Louis MO

Better Angels National Convention

Change Your Life, Change Your Country

Attendees at our 2018 Founding National Convention said it was life changing. They met people from many different political viewpoints who were open, hopeful and passionate about depolarizing American politics.  Imagine yourself coming together with 300 fellow citizens, half liberals and half conservatives, who are committed to rebuilding civic trust and want to address our country’s most pressing problems through constructive discourse and democratic debate.

The 2019 Convention will allow delegates to sample new Better Angels programs, to debate and discuss key organizational priorities, and to strategize about how to continue the outstanding growth of our movement.

Experience these life-changing moments and do something good for your country. Apply to be a delegate for the 2019 Better Angels Convention. 

We are currently accepting applications from conservatives, and from liberals who find and apply with a conservative partner. The conservative partner should put their liberal partner’s name in the Comments section of the application.

The Second Better Angels National Convention will be held on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, from June 20-23, 2019!

The 2019 National Convention provides the opportunity to gather with Better Angels from all across the country. Together, reds and blues in equal number, we will experience new programs, discuss the growth of our citizens’ movement, and make key decisions about our work going forward. Delegates will leave with new and deeper relationships with one another and an action plan to go out and depolarize America.

The Convention officially begins at 4pm on Thursday, June 20 and will end on Saturday night, June 22.

Delegates should plan to attend the entire Convention. Optional training sessions will be available before and after the Convention on Thursday afternoon and Sunday morning. (Those needing to attend religious services on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday are most welcome to do so.)

Please watch this video and visit this page to revisit highlights from last year’s convention.

keynote Guests

Image of Hawk Newsome

Hawk Newsome

Hawk Newsome is chairman of Black Lives Matter NY. He previously worked for a law firm and the Bronx County Office of the District Attorney. He founded the Bronx Sharks, an athletic club that has sent numerous at-risk youths to college on scholarship. He lives with his wife and two children in the New York area. Hawk spoke at a rally of Trump supporters in a way that bridged the divide. Click here to watch the video.

Image of Lexi Hudson

Alexandra Hudson

Alexandra Hudson is an educational consultant at the Liberty Fund. She previously served as a Policy Advisor for the US Department of Education under the Trump Administration. An author, her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. She and her husband live in Indianapolis, IN. Click here to read the piece she wrote about Better Angels Debates.

Agenda

Pre-Convention Opportunities

10:00Washington University campus tour (optional)
12:00 – 6:00Registration open to pick up keys and Convention materials
1:00 – 4:00

Introductory Programs:

How-To Sessions:

  • Organizing Better Angels Workshops and Debates: A How-To with Lead Organizer Donna Murphy
  • How to start a BA Alliance
  • Spreading BA message on college campuses: A How-To with our Student Leadership
  • How to organize a national volunteer network

Problem Solving Skills:

  • Advanced moderator skills training with Bill Doherty
  • Achieving Red/Blue balance at the grassroots level
4:00 – 6:00Check-in / social / convention welcome sessions led by Ambassadors
6:00Dinner
7:00 – 9:00

Opening Session: Gathering Together

  • Call to order
  • Selection of presiding officers
  • Comments by David Blankenhorn
  • Song: “America the Beautiful”
  • Announcements, Adjourn
7:00Breakfast
8:30

Session 2: Where We Stand Today

  • Call to order, announcements
  • Discussion of Better Angels growth & progress since June 2018 (John Wood)
9:45Coffee Break
10:15

Breakout Sessions
Option 1: Experiential Opportunities. Attend only one session, lasting 2 hours (Session 2A from 10:15-12:15)

OR
Option 2: “Briefings” / Informational & Discussion Opportunities. Attend two sessions, each 50 minutes (Session 2B 10:15-11:10; Session 2C 11:20-12:15)

  • Better Angels in the Media, Online and on Social Media, with Better Angels leaders Ciaran O’Connor, John Wood, Jr., and digital marketing expert and GOP consultant Albert Eisenberg
  • Bringing your Alliance to the next level
  • Bringing the BA Message to our political leadership
  • Bringing BA to special community challenges: Edina, MN pilot
  • Outline of all new BA program offerings to date
  • Outreach to improve Red/Blue balance in our network
1:45

Session 3: Where We’re Headed

  • Call to order
  • Better Angels Theory of Change
2:30

Breakout Sessions
Option 1: Experiential Opportunities. Choose one session, two hours in length (Session 3A from 2:30-4:30)

OR

Option 2: “Briefings” / Brainstorming & Discussion Opportunities. Choose two sessions, each 50 minutes (Session 3B 2:40-3:30; Session 3C 3:40-4:30)

  • BA Messaging during the 2020 election cycle
  • How can BA use online programming to expand our reach?
  • Reflect America — How can BA better reflect the real American people and reach those outside the political mainstream?
  • Solving Red/Blue balance at the grassroots level: What will it take?
  • How can religious congregations help heal America?

OR

Option 3: Exploratory Sessions: Better Angels 2019 Strategy and Platform. Choose one session, two hours in length (Session 3D, 2:30-4:30)

  • BA Alliance Policy Groups –Briefing on results of pilot program + discussion in advance of Saturday’s voting
  • BA Strategic Partnerships – Pros and cons of partnering with other organizations; discussion in advance of Saturday’s voting
  • Media Code of Ethics – How could a new media code of ethics be a game changer in effort against polarization?
  • BA Theory of Change – Discussion on strategy for translating the growth of our movement into changes in broader national culture and politics
4:30Coffee Break
5:00Reports from Exploratory Sessions
5:45Adjourn
6:00Dinner
7:00 – 8:30Symposium: “Polarization, American Identity, and a New Way Forward”
Discussion between Hawk Newsome and Lexi Hudson, moderated by John Wood, Jr.
8:45

Optional Evening Programs

  • State Coordinators Meeting
  • Screening of new movie, “Better Angels: Reuniting America.” Director: Four-time Emmy award winner Jim Brown; Producer: musician Peter Yarrow
  • Better Angels Sing Along
  • Exercise Class
 
7:30Breakfast
8:30

Session 4: The Path Forward

  • Call to order, announcements
  • 2019-2020 Strategy (‘Platform’) committee report (30-45 minutes)
  • Feedback process explained
  • Initial feedback on strategy platform gathered while in plenary session (60 mins)
10:30Coffee Break
11:00

Breakout Sessions
Option 1: Experiential Opportunities. Choose one 90 minute session to attend (Session 4A from 11:00-12:30)

Option 2: Strategy Platform Deliberation & Revisions. Choose one 90 minute session to attend (Session 4B from 11:00-12:30). Deliberation on possible revisions/changes in each strategy area. Moderators will bring proposed revisions to drafting committee at conclusion of session.

  • Media
  • Policy
  • Partnerships
  • Theory of Change
12:30Lunch for Delegates
Drafting Committee: working lunch to finalize revisions to 2019-2020 Strategy Platform
2:00

Reconvene

  • Call to order
  • Final strategy document presented (20 minutes)
  • Opportunity for discussion and revisions prior to voting
3:30Voting, and signature of the 2019-2020 Strategy Platform if adopted
4:00Coffee Break
4:30Concluding Exercises: What’s next? What am I taking home with me?
5:20Announcements, Adjournment
5:30Dinner
6:45Alliance Co-Chair Meeting
8:00Concert by red and blue musicians

NOTE: Delegates must check out of their rooms by 11am

8:00Breakfast
9:00 – 12:00

Public Events (open both to delegates and general public)

Private Events, Delegates Only

  • Advanced moderator skills training with Bill Doherty (3 hours)
  • Organizing Better Angels Workshops and Debates: A How-To from Donna Murphy, lead organizer
  • How to Start a BA Alliance
  • How to Bring your Alliance to the Next Level
12:00 – 1:00Lunch and depart

Costs

Full Registration (includes three nights of private dorm room accommodations and all meals, from Thursday dinner through Sunday lunch)

Staying Off-Site Registration (includes all meals, from Thursday dinner through Sunday lunch, but no accommodations)

Student Registration (includes three nights of private dorm room accommodations and all meals, from Thursday dinner through Sunday lunch)

$395

$295

$195

Better Angels is committed to welcoming delegates of all financial means. Please indicate in your delegate application if you would like to learn more about our need-based scholarship program. Delegates are responsible for arranging their own travel. 

We encourage you to apply now as places are filling up fast! We must provide Washington University shortly with the number of private dorm rooms we need.

Got Questions?

FAQ

Here are some of the most common questions about the 2019 Better Angels National Convention.  If you have a question that’s not listed below, contact us.

The 2019 Better Angels National Convention will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, from Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 23, 2019 on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis.

YES!!! Please apply soon! We are very interested in welcoming delegates of all financial means. We have a scholarship program which can sponsor up to 45 delegates at a significant discount, or entirely free of charge, depending upon financial need. There may be some travel stipend funding available for select delegates. We heartily encourage you to apply; simply indicate on your application that you are interested in learning more about the scholarship program.

You can expect to hear back within four weeks time from submission

You can expect to hear back within four weeks time from submission

Refunds will be issued for registration cancellation until 30 days before the event (May 20th, 2019). After this date, regrettably no refunds can be issued. Please write to [email protected] if you have any questions.

Yes! We hope you will apply soon. Please note that we especially ask our repeat delegates, as veteran Better Angels, to work on recruiting a partner applicant of the opposite political persuasion. So former blue delegates go out and find a red partner applicant. Former red delegates, go find a blue partner to apply with you. Or ask one of your opposite color friends from last year’s convention to apply with you again this year.

Each delegate will be assigned a private dormitory room (no roommate) unless they specifically request otherwise or elect other arrangements. All rooms are air-conditioned and outfitted with high quality memory foam mattresses. Linens will be provided, including towels, washcloths, sheets, pillowcase, pillow, and a light blanket. Most rooms are arranged in suites of 3-4 single rooms with a shared bathroom off a common living room. Men and women will generally be housed in separate suites unless married. A few rooms may have a shared bathroom off the hall. In the event of excess demand, those receiving discounted admission or attending the Convention free-of-charge in our scholarship program may be asked to double-up with roommates in order to accommodate everyone, in which case these individuals would be notified in advance and asked for their consent. We hope to accommodate most or all of our scholarship recipients in private rooms.
To make your dormitory accommodations more comfortable, you may wish to bring along a robe and a pair of slippers. We also recommend bringing your own toiletries (basic soap is provided), hair dryers, and an extra blanket if you often get cold at night.

The campus of Washington University is centrally located in the St. Louis metropolitan area and easily accessible from major highways. For your destination, use the address: 6614 Shepley Drive, Clayton, MO 63105. Some navigation systems may also recognize ‘St. Louis, MO’ with the same address, but Clayton, MO is the official name of the city in which the University is located. Be sure that you are navigating to Shepley Drive from Big Bend Boulevard; there is no entrance at Wydown Blvd. or Wallace Drive even though your GPS may direct you to those streets.The 6614 Shepley Drive address should bring you to the Clocktower plaza in the middle of the ‘South 40’ section of campus. From the Clocktower plaza there will be signage directing you to the 2019 Better Angels Convention registration and dormitory accommodations. Please note: On-campus parking permits will be available by pre-registration only for a fee of $20. No permits will be available upon arrival, and parking in the surrounding residential area is generally prohibited. Please arrange for a permit in advance should you require it.

There are many options for transportation between Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and the Washington University campus, including taxi cabs ($60 round-trip), airport shuttle service ($40 round-trip), and public transportation ($7 round-trip).


Private taxis are available upon exit from the airport. Instruct your driver to drop you off at the South 40 Clocktower on the campus of Washington University. If needed, the address is 6614 Shepley Drive, Clayton, MO 63105, but be sure to tell the driver you are going to Clayton, as there is another Shepley Drive located in St. Louis area.


Commercial airport shuttles are available via Go Best Express. These shared ride shuttles depart Lambert-St. Louis International Airport roughly every 15 to 30 minutes between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM and begin servicing routes to the airport at 4:00 AM. Return shuttles to the airport, as well as service outside standard operating hours require reservations; please check for availability. Reservations will guarantee your seat on the van. You can reserve online at www.gobestexpress.com or call 1.877.STL.GOVAN (1.877.785.4682).


The St. Louis public transit system MetroLink provides service between Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and the Washington University campus. The trip takes about 45 minutes. Board the trains from the MetroLink stations at both the Main and East Terminals of the airport. Follow the signs in the airport terminal towards MetroLink. Detailed instructions below, courtesy of Washington University:

  1. At the station, board the eastbound train with “Shiloh-Scott” on the destination display.

  2. Take this train to the Forest Park/DeBaliviere station and deboard.

  3. Walk to the other side of the platform and wait for a westbound train with “Shrewsbury Lansdowne/I-44” on the destination display – make sure not to accidentally get on a train headed back to Lambert Airport.

  4. To get to the South 40 Clocktower, take this train to the University City/Big Bend station. The University City/Big Bend station is located along the border of campus.
5. Cross Big Bend at Forest Park Parkway (the Big Bend Sidewalk along the edge of campus may be closed due to construction) and walk south on Big Bend Blvd. toward Forsyth Blvd.

  5. Cross the street at Forsyth Blvd. to the other side of Big Bend. Continue walking south.

  6. Turn left on Shepley Drive and walk a few blocks until you reach the clocktower plaza.

Further information and transit maps for the MetroLink system can be found here: https://www.metrostlouis.org/system-maps/.

Yes, only members are eligible to apply to attend as Convention Delegates.  Join the 6,500 Better Angels members across all 50 states by contributing as little as $1 per month. Becoming a member helps support our work and gives you access to membership privileges. To join as a Better Angels member, click here.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until all places are filled. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible if you would like to attend. Application review will end on May 1st. After this date, late applications will be accepted only as space permits.

Apply together with someone of the opposite political persuasion. So, if you are a ‘Blue’ (progressive in philosophy, generally supporting Democrats over Republicans), try to recruit a friend, neighbor, or family member who is a ‘Red’  (someone more conservative in philosophy, generally supporting Republicans over Democrats) to apply together with you. Both partner applicants will receive priority review and have a significantly greater chance of acceptance. For a video with tips on how blues can find red partners, click here

The nearest airport is Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, located about 8 miles away from Washington University in St. Louis. Only Southwest Airlines flies into the East Terminal, while all other airlines fly into the Main Terminal. Further information on how to reach the campus of Washington University in St. Louis from the airport is available below.

The Cheshire, 4-stars, starts at $149 per night
1.5 miles from campus, 6300 Clayton Rd, Richmond Heights, MO 63117
http://www.cheshirestl.com
(314) 647-7300
Moonrise Hotel, 4-stars, starts at $169 per night
1.5 miles from campus, 6177 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112
https://moonrisehotel.com
(314) 721-1111
The Ritz-Carlton St. Louis, 5-stars, starts at $492 per night
1.5 miles from campus, 100 Carondelet Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63105
http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/st-louis
(314) 863-6300
Seven Gables Inn, 3-stars, starts at $134 per night
2 miles from campus, 26 N Meramec Ave, St. Louis, MO 63105
http://www.sevengablesinn.com
(314) 863-8400
Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel St. Louis, 3-stars, starts at $111 per night
2 miles from campus, 7730 Bonhomme Ave, St. Louis, MO 63105 https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/stlcp-sheraton-clayton-plaza-hotel-st-louis/
(314) 863-0400
Hampton Inn and Suites Clayton/St. Louis Galleria, 3-stars, starts at $165 per night
2 miles from campus, 216 Meramec Ave, Clayton, MO 63105
https://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/missouri/hampton-inn-and-suites-clayton-st-louis-galleria-area-STLGAHX/index.html
(314) 727-0700
SpringHill Suites by Marriott St. Louis Brentwood, 3-stars, starts at $127 per night
3 miles from campus, 1231 Strassner Dr, Brentwood MO 63144
https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/stlbw-springhill-suites-st-louis-brentwood/
(314) 647-8400
Red Roof Plus+ St. Louis – Forest Park/Hampton Ave, 2-stars, starts at $92 per night
4 miles from campus, 5823 Wilson Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110
https://www.redroof.com/property/mo/saint-louis/RRI135
(314) 645-0101

You can reach the campus either via private taxi service or via public transit. Private taxis should be instructed to deliver you to the South 40 Clocktower on the campus of Washington University. If needed, the address is 6614 Shepley Drive, Clayton, MO 63105, but be sure to tell the driver you are going to Clayton, as there is another Shepley Drive located in St. Louis area.
Public transit is also an option to reach the campus. Detailed directions from all major transit hubs are given below, courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis:

From the Amtrak station


Walk up S 16th Street towards Spruce Street. Make a right on Spruce Street and walk until you reach the Civic Center MetroLink station. Wait for a westbound train with “Shrewsbury/I-44” on the destination display. To get to the South 40 residences, take this train to the Skinker station. Walk to the corner of Skinker and Forest Park Parkway and wait at the shuttle stop located in the parking lot behind Whitaker Hall. Take the Green Line or Campus Circulation to the South 40 (verify with the driver that they are headed to the South 40 and not to the Village or U. City). Deboard the shuttle the Clocktower plaza.

From the Greyhound station


Walk to the bus stop for the #30 MetroBus. Board the #30 MetroBus heading south to Brentwood Garage. Take this bus to the Convention Center MetroLink station and deboard. Enter the MetroLink station and wait for a westbound train with “Shrewsbury/I-44” on the destination display. To get to the South 40 residences, take this train to the Skinker station. Walk to the corner of Skinker and Forest Park Parkway and wait at the shuttle stop located in the parking lot behind Whitaker Hall. Take the Green Line or Campus Circulation to the South 40 (verify with the driver that they are headed to the South 40 and not to the Village or U. City). Deboard the shuttle at the Clocktower plaza.

From the MegaBus station


Walk east on Market Street to S 18th Street. Turn right on S 18th Street and walk to the Union Station MetroLink station. Enter the MetroLink station and wait for a westbound train with “Shrewsbury/I-44” on the destination display. To get to the South 40 residences, take this train to the Skinker station. Walk to the corner of Skinker and Forest Park Parkway and wait at the shuttle stop located in the parking lot behind Whitaker Hall. Take the Green Line or Campus Circulation to the South 40 (verify with the driver that they are headed to the South 40 and not to the Village or U. City). Deboard the shuttle at the Clocktower plaza.

St. Louis is a lively city with a number of local attractions. Things to check out in the local area include: the St. Louis Zoo, the Gateway Arch, Forest Park, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Busch Stadium (home of the St. Louis Cardinals), the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the National Transportation Museum, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, the Missouri Civil War Museum, the Fox Theatre, and the Soulard Farmers Market.