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Utah Citizen Summit: Bridging Divides After the Election

For those eager to continue the conversation we began at NCDD 2016 about how to bridge our nation’s divides after the election, we encourage you to attend or tune in to the Utah Citizen Summit on Nov. 12th in Salt Lake City. The day-long event has been organized with the help of many NCDD members, and the centerpiece of the event, a conversation across partisan divides about the common good, will be livestreamed. You can learn more about the Summit in the announcement below from NCDD Sustaining Member John Steiner, or by clicking here.

An Invitation to Participate in a National Conversation

The national heart of the Utah Citizen Summit – to be held on Saturday, November 12th in Salt Lake City – is an afternoon, 90-minute dialogue, which will be facilitated by Mark Gerzon, with a leading Democrat, Republican, an Independent, and a major civic leader. The animating question will be: Now What? After this election how can we, as Americans, come together across our many divides to address challenging issues and to work for the common good?

We’ll be asking the following or similar questions of our participants:

  1. Now that the election is over, what are your hopes and dreams for Americans coming together?
  2. How might we learn to better live with our differences – with greater mutual respect and honor, with civility and compassion – in order to address challenging issues and to make progress for the common good?
  3. What first step might you (and your organization) be willing to take to help make this possible?

This conversation will be live streamed and recorded.

With the intention of recreating our public square – as Hannah Arendt once said, “Democracy needs a place to sit down” – we would like to catalyze similar conversations around our country after the election and before the inauguration. We’re reaching out to national organizations and networks with which we’ve been involved to see who might want to host similar dialogues in their communities, whether in living rooms, public libraries, at universities, etc.

The questions we’ll be asking can serve as a template or model. While we encourage local facilitators or Living Room Conversation hosts to follow this format, anyone can certainly create their own questions within the spirit of our session in Salt Lake City.

We have a website – www.utahcitizensummit.org – which is being enhanced so that dialogues can be registered and results reported, harvested, and shared with those involved.

Many thanks for considering participating,

John Steiner & the Utah Citizen Summit team

P.S.: Online collaboration resource

Our wonderful Salt Lake City colleague, John Kessler, who is largely responsible for the Utah Citizen Summit, is also offering the following as part of our national outreach process, for those communities who would like to participate in a more ongoing way:

One of the deeper purposes of the Utah Citizen Summit is for communities to be creative and emergent in becoming more civil, compassionate, inclusive, and collaborative in conversation, policy making, and action. In addition to connecting around the Utah Citizen Summit, we have an interactive web tool, which, on an ongoing basis, can provide a convening space for communities in an interactive, collaborative, online learning and practice environment. There exists the capacity to do this locally, nationally, and/or globally in an online environment, where communities and community based groups meet, connect, co-learn, and collaborate.

We have developed developed this resource in partnership with uBegin, a web based platform. Our civil network can now do this in a partnering way and invite other communities into this space. We’d like to make this available more broadly. Please let me know if you’re interested in exploring this option.

You can find more information on the Utah Citizen Summit at www.saltlakecivilnetwork.org/utah-citizen-summit.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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