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Write-Up from Patricia Wilson on the American Citizens Summit

UT professor and NCDD member Patricia Wilson sent me a brief write-up on the Transpartisan Alliance’s American Citizens Summit.  NCDD was one of the official co-sponsors of the Summit, but I wasn’t able to make it to the event.  If you were there, feel free to send us your take on the Summit as well for the blog! (email it to sandy@thataway.org)

As a reminder, the American Citizens’ Summit, which took place February 11-15 in Denver, was a unique “town hall meeting” aimed at bringing together a mix of voices from all political parties and social movements to focus on three key questions:  (1) What is Transpartisanship? (2) What are the issues that unite and divide us? and (3) What are the strategies to confront these issues?

Thanks, Patricia, for sharing these tidbits with us!

– Sandy

From Patricia Wilson…

Gosh, the American Citizens’ Summit was intense.  I hadn’t been in dialogue with Libertarians, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, etc, etc, like I was during those four days. It was small – 82 people – and  over half were liberals. Only 6% Republicans. Lots of open space style break-outs. Interactive plenaries, lots of relationship-building methods. Creative use of key pads in plenaries to identify minority issues, build consensus, prioritize, evaluate, etc. Much of that is up on the website (www.transpartisan.net). Upshot was building a base, small as it was, for a transpartisan movement and  building consensus around transpartisan values (dialogue across difference, transparency in governance, etc).

Interesting tidbits:

– Joseph McCormick (the main organizer, a former Republican congressman) said that many of his conservative colleagues had turned against him for ‘consorting with evil’ (i.e. liberals), as one of them had said, and refused to come to the event.

– And one Green Party member said he had been facing much resistance to introducing non-violent communication and dialogue skills into his party to reduce the fractious debates, and came to this event as an individual because his party wouldn’t endorse the event.

The most touching thing:
– One of the conspiracy theorists said at the end that she recognized through the keypad voting that she was one of the last two people to keep staunchly prioritizing her one issue, that others had let go and begun to think about the needs and concerns of the whole. She realized that not everyone wanted to talk about the shadow side of things all the time. So she decided it was time for her to soften as well, and she vowed to use some of the interactive communication skills she had learned during the event.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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