Pushing Back Against Polarization: The Village Square. Liz Joyner

One way to help solve America's polarization crisis is to hang out with someone not like you. Someone who sees the world differently or comes from a cultural background, social class, racial or ethnic group other than your own.

While social media, political elites and national news outlets profit from polarization, the rest of us do not. This episode looks at one highly successful local initiative to push back against the conflict entrepreneurs who want to make us angry, fearful and divided.

Our guest is Liz Joyner, founder and President of The Village Square, a non-profit based in Tallahassee, Florida, dedicated to reviving civic connections across divisions inside American communities. For the past 17 years she's been the leader of an organization that describes itself as "a nervy bunch of liberals and conservatives who believe that dialogue and disagreement make for a good conversation, a good country and a good time"

Most of us live in neighborhoods and among friends who think like us, especially about politics. That’s a problem because not only are we divided, but don’t understand the other side. The number of people who say our country is headed in the wrong direction has remained very high throughout most of the past decade.

Liz believes that with the help of food and a sense of humor all kinds of people can be in the same room. They don't have to agree, but in many cases she says, Americans are not as divided as we think. "We disagree in soundbites that professional polarizers are working to divide us over, but in paragraphs we agree way more than we think we do," she tells us.

As for the polarizers? "l think they're playing us all, and we ought to be done with them," Liz tells us. The Village Square has organized dozens of public events, ranging from a few dozen people to audiences of more than a thousand breaking bread and enjoying a lively conversation.

Recommendation: Jim is reading "The Matter of Everything" by physicist and science communicator Dr. Suzie Sheehy. The book is a journey through the experiments that not only unlocked the nature of matter and shaped our understanding of the cosmos, but also changed the way we live.

Bonus Recommendation: Jim enjoys listening to The Glenn Show podcast with economist Glenn Loury.

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