UCN’s Share the Plate recipient for November and December 2021 is Braver Angels, a non-partisan grassroots organization formed in 2016 to help bridge the political and cultural divide between reds and blues, conservatives and liberals. By in-person and now mostly by virtual workshops, discussions, 1-to-1 conversations, documentaries, trainings, debates, and podcasts, Braver Angels starts conversations on specific topics in civil and respectful terms for all. The goal is to help people with opposite opinions see each other as people, find common interests, and stop demonizing political opponents.
A $16 annual membership fee earns members access to all Braver Angels public events. This organization was founded by a conservative and a liberal who were friends. The small national paid staff is bipartisan, half conservative and half liberal. Every participating state has two coordinators, one red and one blue, including in Wisconsin. Every effort is made to gather equally partisan groups too, to assure that participants have the true opportunity to talk, be heard, and to listen and learn about people with opposing views. One continuing theme of Braver Angels is that each of us has had different life experiences that have contributed to our opinions and beliefs; we need more opportunities to hear each other’s stories. The purpose of understanding our opponents is to find ways to work together even when it’s challenging, toward common goals to protect the US, and our democracy.
Braver Angels was nominated for Share the Plate by Jennifer Wilke, UCN member and chair of the Social Justice Committee, because of her participation in a variety of Braver Angels trainings that caused her to face some of her own stereotypes and misperceptions, and listen. In the nomination form, Jennifer wrote, “Braver Angels gives me hope for American democracy, because its work and practices address every one of our UU principles.”