RTT recently piloted a new, ambitious initiative forging connection and communication across red/blue/purple divides in American life. With a team of 36 facilitators and student interns, RTT conducted hundreds of interviews in the heart of Rust Belt counties that swung powerfully to Trump in the 2016 election after supporting Obama. We continued with a series of powerful, facilitated dialogue forums in rural Wisconsin and Iowa, bringing together hundreds of community members to discuss charged issues from immigration to health care to the proper role of government to divergent interpretations of Christian moral and political values. RTT worked in close partnership with conservative, rural, and/or working class Americans whose voices and communities tend to be under-represented in most dialogue efforts. You can read select opinion pieces and coverage informed by this pilot project here: “The Conversation about Guns We’re Not Having,” “Hello Neighbor,” “Rural Wisconsin Voters Swung for Trump,” “A Bigger Picture of Healing and Justice,” “Listening Campaign Arrives in Viroqua,” and “St Mark’s Parish Resets the Table.”
In 2018, RTT piloted a training in mediation skills for journalists, focused on integrating mediation tools into everything from how journalists ask questions to what stories they choose to tell. We believe journalists hold unique potential to depolarize America by supporting audiences to see each other’s hopes, concerns, and experiences across the siloes of American life. This powerful essay by Amanda Ripley of The Atlantic, in part an outgrowth of this training, has been making extraordinary waves in the journalism field.
Stay tuned for new developments and partnerships, as Resetting the American Table continues to grow.