Discussion groups look past political divides in search of common ground in Edina

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Andrew Wig, Sun Current

It sounds like the makings of a reality show, sans the secret alliances, immunity challenges and – crucially – the petty spats:

Five liberals and five conservatives are picked to form a circle in an Edina living room. Their mission? Find something in common.

But these meet-ups aren’t made for TV. They’re taking place across Edina in hopes of closing a political divide that grew locally and nationally following the 2016 presidential election. In Edina, the seemingly widening gulf between liberals and conservatives was highlighted by the tumult in the community’s cherished public schools.

Karen Gabler was contemplating that polarization last year when she decided to reach out to Bill Doherty, the University of Minnesota family social sciences professor who created the framework for Better Angels, a national program that brings conservatives and liberals together for workshops like the ones happening in Edina. When contacted by Gabler, Doherty was aware of the controversy that had enveloped Edina Schools, where conservative students and parents had accused the district of a liberal bias following the election of President Donald Trump.

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