Resources for understanding each other


For engagement ideas, visit our Ready for Action page

Make Shift Coffee House, Belfast Maine, USA

Spring/Summer 2018

Civil Society for the 21st Century – A June 2018 article series presented by Stanford Social Innovation Review in collaboration with the Independent Sector.

Winter 2018

You’re Wrong! I’m Right! – February 2018 New York Times OpEd by Nicholas Kristof . Kristof writes ‘It should be possible both to believe deeply in the rightness of one’s own cause and to hear out the other side. ‘

Equilibriums and Limits: A Better Way to Talk Politics – February 2018 article from The Atlantic that argues the US two-party system sets up binary policy debates, but we would find more common ground if we debated issues on a spectrum.

Empathize With Your Political Foe – New York Times opinion piece by Arthur Brooks which examines the idea of ‘Othering’. Published January 21, 2018.

Change My View –  Subreddit message board that is devoted to civil discourse. A submitter posts an opinion which they feel may be flawed and those with alternative opinions try to civilly change the submitter’s mind.

Fall/Winter 2017

The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider – Seminal report by the Pew Research Center, October, 2017

Honor & Civility Caucus – Charlie Crist, Mike Johnson Launch Congressional Honor and Civility Caucus, December 2017

Political Typographies – Updated by the Pew Research Center in October 2017.

America’s Epidemic of Incivility – Richard Patterson opinion piece in October 2017 which argues that We are becoming blind to a foundational truth: Only the glue of civility can bind together a democratic society.

The Dying Art of Disagreement – A New York Times opinion by Bret Stephens. This articles explores trends in academia and on college campuses and calls for bringing back civil disagreement. September, 2017

Spring/Summer 2017

How we became bitter political enemies – A New York Times article that documents the growing political divide. June, 2017

Strangers in their Own Land: Living in “Red” America Today – A video-taped interview with Dr. Arlie Hochschild as she discusses her  New York Times best selling book, “Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.” May, 2017

Political Differences and Polarization: Conservative versus Liberal Ideology and Psychology – An academic paper by Mt. Ararat High School Senior Spencer Coker. A very good explanation of our differences, and why. This was written for Advanced Placement Literature and Composition taught by Leonard Krill. March, 2017

Why We Believe Obvious Untruths – An article in the New York Times published March 3, 2017

Divided States of America – FRONTLINE investigates the partisanship that gridlocked Washington in the Obama era, and the polarized America that Donald Trump inherits as president. January, 2017

A Nation Engaged: NPR Listens To America – On Point and NPR provide highlights from conversations across the country. Really great if you want to hear different perspectives, and how to be civil about it. January, 2017


Americans don’t need reconciliation – they need to get better at arguing – Article in The Atlantic by Eric Liu. It cautions against reconciliation too quick. Let’s first take time to understand our differences. November, 2016

Zadie Smith on Fresh Air – This interview covers lots of ground and very fast but says some really interesting things about “people who are different.” November, 2016

Conversation with a Trump Supporter – On Being host Krista Tippett answers a listener’s question. Good stuff here about how to have a conversation with someone different. November, 2016

How to Have Better Political Conversations – A Ted Talk by Robb Willer in which he explains how moral values are the foundation of political identity, and how you can’t go wrong with empathy and respect. September, 2016

Engaging Resources

The Better Arguments Project – The Better Arguments Project equips Americans to reach across political, cultural and economic divides to have arguments that bring us closer together instead of driving us further apart.

The Renewal Project – Determined to find and tell the stories of prag­mat­ic prob­lem solv­ers wherever they are—whether they come from loc­al gov­ern­ment, non­profit groups, small busi­nesses, or your neighborhood, the Renewal Project celebrates innovation, resilience, and ingenuity across America.

Libraries Transform Communities – Tools here for libraries to host dialogue and deliberation events.

Guide to Hosting Let’s Talk America Large Discussion – This is a great guide to help organize a discussion, and two supporting materials – overview and wallet guide

Living Room Conversations – Many great resources here for making connections with people who are different, discussion guides, specific advice and resources for specific topics, videos, articles, and more.

Hi From The Other Side – This website provides a way to sign up to have a conversation with someone different from you. And they provide a conversation guide for when you get paired. They also have a newsletter.

Fostering Dialogue Across Divides – This is a 150-page manual. A really terrific guide for hosting meetings designed to help people understand each other.

How to Criticize with Kindness – Daniel Dennett’s four key elements of critical commentary. Very short.

National Institute for Civil Discourse – Lots of resources here regarding nonpartisanship and civil dialogue across political ideologies.

National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation – Bridging Our Divide
– This is a campaign hosted by NCDD. Tons of resources lurking in the comments of this blog post.

Reaching Across the Red/Blue Divide – A 10-page guide about how to have conversations among conservatives and liberals; red people and blue people.

Websites, Podcasts, Videos

Donna & Bob – An Unlikely Friendship – In this under 5 minute video clip you will learn how Bob (President and CEO of The Family Leader) and Donna (The Executive Director of One Iowa) became unlikely coffee buddies.

Civil Conversations Project – These conversations are taken from episodes of On Being and are moderated by host Krista Tippett. Our hope is that these conversations model an approach to civil dialogue that: Creates space for a new quality of conversation and relationship; Is grounded in lived virtues; Calms fear; Engages common life even in the absence of common ground; Restores the social art of listening; Models an adventurous civility; Patiently calls forth the best in ourselves and others.

Bring It to the Table – A documentary film and more aimed at bridging political divides and elevating the national conversation about issues that matter to us all. The Table Talks page provides views from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents on gay marriage, healthcare, immigration, abortion, and other topics.

Red Feed, Blue Feed – Liberal Facebook and Conservative Facebook side by side. This clever website by the Wall Street Journal lets you pick a topic and then see what news you would receive in Facebook depending if you are conservative or liberal.

Pantsuit Politics – Right wing Beth and left wing Sarah talk about the issues across the divide. A terrific collection of discussions and resources.

Credibility and Slant of News Sources – An infographic that depicts several news sources and whether they are left, right, analytical or sensational.

Big Tent Nation – Big Tent Nation is committed to transforming the way individual citizens, business and government communicate and collaborate on issues critical to broad-based national prosperity. The online platform gives mainstream citizens the information and organizational tools they need to effect meaningful change.

Bridge Alliance – Since it’s often difficult for any one group to fully capture public attention or broadly popularize solutions, Bridge Alliance is banding together to create great impact across three broad areas: civic engagement, governance and policymaking, and campaign and election processes.


The Righteous Mind – Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt

American Character – A History of the Epic Struggle between Individual Liberty and the Common Good, by Colin Woodward

Strangers in their Own Land – Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Short Videos by Craig

Listen to your Enemies

Learn about Somebody Different

That’s the Way it Looks from Here

What we Think we Know is Dangerous


If you know of other resources about understanding each other, please let us know.


Click here to learn about the Make Shift Coffee House culture and why understanding each other is so useful.

Click here for Videos, Tips, and Handouts from Craig on all aspects of group dynamics: communications, leadership, conflict, facilitation, etc.