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January 22, 2021
 
Dear <<First Name>>,

At Convergence, we are devoted to bringing Americans together across our painful divides to tackle our crisis-recovery work, to devise consensus solutions to significant policy challenges – and to learn to work and live with each other.

All of us who support this work – regardless of which candidate we voted for – were heartened by the emphasis President Biden placed in his Inaugural Address on bringing Americans together: 
 
[M]y whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our Nation.

I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the common foes we face: Anger, resentment, hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence. Disease, joblessness, hopelessness.

Of course, in this post-election environment, especially following the storming of our Capitol, those of us who care about crossing divisions have our work cut out for us. Some advocates and policymakers assert that reaching across political divides to “them” would mean “we” have to: sacrifice our values; credit/accept the values of our opponent; forgive the unforgivable; compromise our position; or, otherwise appease our enemy. Sometimes, work to reach across the divides is mistakenly dismissed as ineffective and unserious, a “nice” but Kumbaya-infused commitment to civility and kindness.

We know, however, that the reverse is true: reaching out to those with whom we disagree signals strength, not weakness. It requires no conciliation or compromise of values or positions, just a willingness to listen to and understand the other’s perspective. Above all, we know it works. Time after time, Convergence has -- with fidelity to best practices and to our decidedly non-Kumbaya methodology -- helped people who didn’t believe they could work together find authentic pathways to build trust and opportunities to create uncommon alliances. 

If you are a supporter of bridging America’s divides to address issues like getting Americans back to work, interrupting the current surge of gun-related suicides, increasing cost containment and equitable access to health care, and fostering greater bipartisan collaboration in Congress - the kinds of issues Convergence tackles - well, it’s time to step up.

What can you do? Here are three ideas: first, please share this newsletter with people who care about America solving our core challenges. Second, check out ComeTogetherAmerica.net, which will connect you with some of the best organizations in the bridge-building field. And, third, either with one of those organizations or on your own, find an opportunity to break out of your bubble and spend more time with people who vote and believe differently than you do.

I hope you’re inspired to engage more deeply by Convergence’s recent accomplishments, shared below.

All the best,
 
David Eisner, President & CEO
Convergence Center for Policy Resolution
 
OUR IMPACT CONTINUES
TO GROW
Convergence continues its track record of making real-world impact on seemingly intractable issues. Just this month, we launched a Reentry Ready pilot in Louisiana testing what participants in the Reentry Ready dialogue recommended; and saw the inclusion by Governor Newsom in his 2021 budget of the Office of Health Care Affordability, mirroring the consensus recommendation from the participants of our CA Health Reform Initiative. Click below to learn more.
Learn More

UNLIKELY ALLIES SUPPORT RECOVERY FOR AMERICA'S WORKERS & PREVENTING GUN-RELATED SUICIDES
As the pandemic persists and challenges mount, Convergence’s current projects on Economic Recovery for America’s Workers and Guns and Suicide Prevention reach across divides to tackle some of the Nation’s most pressing issues. Click below for status updates on both projects.
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CONVERGENCE HIGHLIGHTS BRIDGE-BUILDING & BIPARTISANSHIP IN THE HILL
Convergence Founder Rob Fersh and former Secretary of the US Senate Kelly Johnston, also a former Convergence Board Member, disagree on almost everything…except the major steps needed for our Nation to come together. Click below to read their full op-ed recently published in The Hill.



 
Learn More
 

BRIDGEUSA PARTNERSHIP PROVIDES FORUM FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS
Convergence and BridgeUSA teamed up for a series of college student discussions focused on economic recovery, rethinking college education systems, and revitalizing government in the wake of COVID-19. Click below to watch 1-minute highlight reels of these insightful conversations.
Learn More
Resources
  • Come Together America - We are incredibly excited to see exponential growth in the bridge-building field over the last few years! Visit cometogetheramerica.net to learn about our colleagues working in communities across the country, and help us fuel the movement to reunite the Nation.  
     
  • Collaborating to Rethink Care for Older Adults – Building on our Long-Term Care Financing Collaborative dialogue in 2016, we recently brought together almost 50 experts on care for older adults to brainstorm new practices, policies, and business models to transform the system of care and the range of institutions. Check out our summary of the conversations and the dialogue participants’ transformational ideas. 
     
  • BridgeUSA – If you’re a college student who cares about bridging political divides, check out Convergence’s partner, BridgeUSA. Their local chapters create “bridge communities” where students across the ideological spectrum collaborate to constructively engage the causes of our time. No BridgeUSA chapter at your school? Learn more about starting one here.
     
  • Living Room Conversations – Join our partner, Living Room Conversations (LRC), for two upcoming virtual events: 1) Living Room Conversations LIVE: TRUST on January 27 @ 5:00pm – 6:00pm PST. This LRC LIVE will explore what trust looks like in our individual lives, communities, and larger systems. 2) Introduction to Living Room Conversations on January 28 @ 5:00pm – 6:00pm PST. This recurring event is an interactive introduction to LRC where you can learn about their model, meet staff, and find out more about getting involved as a host, participant, or volunteer.  
     
  • AllSides AllSides for Schools has resources and lesson plans for teachers! To help prepare students for thoughtful participation in democracy, AllSides promotes news literacy, respectful dialogue, and critical thinking. They also offer Mismatch, an online conversation platform built to cultivate skills and offer practice in civil dialogue among middle school, high school, and college students in different parts of the United States. Like a modern-day “pen pal” program, Mismatch connects students across distance and divides and guides them through structured, meaningful conversations with one another. 
     
  • Common Ground Committee – If you’ve been frustrated by partisan politics and divisive rhetoric and want to know which elected officials reach across the aisle — check out the Common Ground Scorecard, developed by our partner, Common Ground Committee. Learn which officials approach the process with a spirit of collaboration, who digs in for all or nothing, and who’s a maverick willing to cross party lines.
In Brief
  • Please join us for Convergence’s first Leadership Council meeting of 2021, where we will share updates on our progress across Convergence Dialogues and our broader efforts to advance the bridge-building field -- and enjoy some networking. Everyone is welcome to register (for free) for the virtual February 4, 2021 LC meeting. 
     
  • We are delighted that the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress was renewed for the 117th Congress, beginning this month. Convergence will continue working with the Select Committee as well as the Bipartisan Working Group to further support Congress in expanding bipartisan collaboration.
     
  • How Music Can Unite and Heal America (December 2, 2020) – Convergence was mentioned in a recent Forbes article, along with Braver Angels and One America Movement. The article highlights our bridge-building efforts and argues that music could be a powerful tool to reconnect with one another and reduce polarization.
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