Bridging the Divide workshop

‘Bridging’ workshops aim to heal divisions

January 17, 2019

With social and political divisions widening, the grassroots group Blue Jean Nation has developed a workshop called “Bridging the Divide” exploring ways to get people with pronounced differences talking and steer tough conversations toward common ground. The workshop is being offered to local community groups across the state.

The first presentation will be in Janesville on Wednesday, January 23 at 7 p.m. in the Union Labor Temple at 1605 Center Avenue. Arrangements are being made to bring the workshop to other communities. It is already scheduled for Waupun on Saturday, March 2 and will be featured at the Wisconsin Grassroots Festival in Mazomanie on Saturday, March 23.

Six ways to overcome differences and open the door to understanding and even agreement are taught in the workshops, which are an outgrowth of the first of Blue Jean Nation’s three aims.

“There is intense hunger out there for alternatives to the politics of fear, hate, divisiveness and polarization, and strong desire to change the way we talk to each other so we can decide together what kind of society we want,” Blue Jean Nation founder and president Mike McCabe said. “We cannot have a stable and cohesive society much less a democracy without dialogue, and dialogue is becoming a lost art as political polarization intensifies and rhetoric coarsens. These workshops are all about reviving that art form.”

Blue Jean Nation will be using a train-the-trainers model to prepare local leaders to give the presentation and guide discussions in their own communities. The group also is partnering with the nonpartisan group Voters Engaged to hold multi-partisan listening sessions throughout the state in the coming year.