Resetting the American Table

Resetting the American Table

In the aftermath of the 2016 election – after years of focus on volatile disagreements surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – RTT launched an ambitious initiative forging communication and understanding across red/blue/purple divides in the U.S. We began with a Listening Campaign and series of dialogue forums in the heart of the Wisconsin and Iowa Rust Belt counties that swung Obama-to-Trump in the 2016 election, engaging and partnering with many “unusual suspects” for bridge-building work: from conventional dairy farmers, to blue-collar workers, to Evangelical pastors. Today, we offer training and forums targeting clergy, journalists, bridge-building practitioners, conservative and progressive activists, and more.

RTT recently launched a strategy of creating media content and training societal storytellers – from Hollywood film directors to journalists – to produce creative content that will build recognition, hope, and new norms for healthy engagement across divides on a broad scale.

RTT’s U.S. depolarization work focuses in the following areas:

PURPLE & Media Production

RTT’s short film PURPLE captures an ideologically diverse group of everyday Americans in rural WI and Iowa coming to see the humanity and motivations behind each other’s positions. To date, PURPLE has reached tens of thousands of viewers and screened in over 340 faith communities, universities, high schools, public libraries, museums, think tanks, and non-profit organizations across the country. To download a Discussion Guide and learn how to host a screening, click here.

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Training for Entertainment Industry Professionals and Journalists

We believe journalists and entertainment industry professionals hold unique potential to depolarize America by translating disparate Americans' humanity, hopes, concerns, and experiences across siloes and promoting new narratives of shared civic reality.

In partnership with the Center for Entertainment and Civic Health, RTT's training for entertainment industry professionals supports Hollywood writers, producers, and directors to integrate conflict transformation tools into their character development and story arcs. RTT's journalism training focuses on integrating mediation tools into everything from how journalists ask questions to what stories they choose to tell. This powerful essay by Amanda Ripley of The Atlantic, written in part as an outgrowth of this training, has made many waves in the journalism field.

Training for Clergy and Faith Leaders

RTT envisions supporting America’s faith communities to become exemplars of the productive deliberation across divides that our democracy needs. Religious institutions are often natural conveners who organically bring together constituents with divergent points of view. With the right tools and training, faith leaders and communities can lead the way in overcoming toxic polarization and distrust.

In 2022, RTT’s work with clergy focuses on two programs:

  • A Training Cohort for Faith Leaders in the South, equipping a group of influential clergy and religious leaders with tools and skills for confronting, honoring, and learning from political differences within and across their communities. Click here to read about this year’s participants.
  • A program bringing RTT’s training and toolkit to a religiously and ideologically diverse set of denominational bodies, faith-based convening institutions, and influential congregations positioned for national, regional, and/or denominational ripples.

RTT has delivered hundreds of high-impact programs to rabbis, pastors, and other faith leaders. Through our training, consultation, and programming, faith leaders have turned their institutions into welcoming spaces to discuss and learn about the thorniest issues while honoring all of their congregants, even where they strongly disagree.

Facilitation Training for Practitioners

Recognized by veterans of peace-building and conflict resolution as one of the most rigorous training programs for practitioners in the field, RTT’s celebrated Facilitation Training program equips practitioners to open up transformative, challenging conversations and support participants to remain receptive to each other even while directly investigating charged differences.

In 2022, RTT will lead two Intensive Facilitation Training Cohorts, focusing on leaders from faith, ideological, and racial backgrounds that tend to be under-represented in the wider bridging field.  To learn more about our Facilitation Training and receive updates about future opportunities, please fill out this brief form.