As the nation begins to heal from the impacts of the pandemic, Americans are still facing another existential threat: the urgent crisis of toxic polarization and extreme political partisanship. Today, a growing threat of political sectarianism is amplifying voices that are more ideologically extreme, contemptuous, and unwilling to seek common ground, but an increasing number of organizations are dedicated to bringing Americans together across differences to solve problems and safeguard democracy. The Convergence Leadership Council June 2021 meeting offered an array of insightful conversations about the emerging bridging field and the role Convergence plays in advancing the field and healing America’s divides.
Highlights are below:
The general session began with a mind-expanding conversation between our CEO David Eisner and Over Zero founder Rachel Brown about the brain science behind polarization and how to leverage science to build trust across differences. As a researcher in the field, Rachel shared how understanding the innate need for belonging and sensitivity to threat can expand options for Bridgers.
Rachel Brown Interview
CEO’s Reflection and Look Ahead
David offered some reflections from his first year as CEO which he previously characterized as facing a blinking sign that read, Road Out: Detour Ahead. Now, he sees less of a detour for Convergence but a pathway for the organization to provide two key areas of impact: improving lives through consensus-based problem solving, and normalizing bridge-building and collaborative dialogue across society.
To expand the organization’s reach and impact, Convergence will take on five powerful Dialogues that address key issues facing the nation: Digital Disinformation, Rethinking Care for Older Americans, Guns and Suicides, Economic Recovery for America’s Workers, and Civil Service Reform. Convergence leaders provided a brief synopsis of each issue before inviting LC members to select breakout sessions for a deep dive discussion.
The meeting ended on a celebratory note with Congressman Andy Barr receiving the second Convergence Award for Extraordinary Leadership in Bridge Building. He was recognized for bipartisanship during a time of extreme partisanship. During times of deep ideological divides, it is not the time to stop talking and listening; it’s time to do more, explained Rep. Barr.