What is a Red/Blue Workshop?
5-8 Republican-leaning citizens (“Reds”) and 5-8 Democratic-leaning citizens (“Blues”) gather together for a day of structured conversations.
Two moderators, trained by Braver Angels, lead the workshop, ensuring that ground rules are followed and that everyone is treated respectfully.
In Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address in 1861, with the nation on the brink of Civil War, he appealed to the “braver angels of our nature.” In our dangerously divided nation, we all need to be touched by something better within us and within the country we share. We hold Red/Blue workshops so that citizens of different political beliefs and different backgrounds can get to know each other as individuals and begin to heal the divisions that are endangering our country.
- To better understand the experiences and beliefs of those on the other side of the political divide.
- To see if there are areas of commonality in addition to differences.
- To learn something that might be helpful to others in our community and the nation.
After a brief introduction and discussion of ground rules, attendees of Red/Blue workshops participate in four exercises:
- Stereotypes Exercise – Separate red and blue groups generate, discuss, and report back on the most common false stereotypes or misconceptions of their side, why these stereotypes are wrong, what is true instead, and whether there is a kernel of truth in the stereotype.
- Fishbowl Exercise – In the Fishbowl exercise, one group sits in chairs in the middle and the other group sits around them to listen and learn. Then the two groups switch positions. There is no interaction between the groups during the fishbowl exercise. Afterwards, people are invited to share what they learned about how the other side sees themselves and if they see anything in common.
- Questions Exercise – In the Questions exercise, separate groups of reds and blues meet to generate questions of understanding (as opposed to “gotcha” questions). They then merge into mixed groups of half reds and half blues, and ask the questions to the other side to gain genuine understanding of the views and experiences of people on the other side.
- How Can We Contribute Exercise – Everyone fills out an action grid handout and then pairs up with someone of the other color to share one action step with the whole group. The question: What can each of us do individually, what can our side do, and what might both sides do together to promote better understanding of differences and search for common ground?
“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.” – Abraham Lincoln
Yet today, there is evidence to suggest that we are now as polarized as we have been since the Civil War. Americans no longer see their political opponents as simply wrong or misguided. They see them as enemies who must be defeated at all costs.
We at Braver Angels, and Wyoming Rising do not accept this division.
Wyoming Rising is sponsoring a Braver Angels Red/Blue Workshop in Park County Wyoming this summer. It’s our hope to open dialogue and search for common ground.
For further information, visit https://braverangels.org/