News Articles & Make Shift Coffee House Press

Winter 2019

The Least Politically Prejudiced Place in America - As American towns become more politically segregated and judgmental, what can we learn from one that hasn’t? Article from the Atlantic, March 2019.

Examining Civility In A Time Of Deepening Political Divisions - March 2019 NPR story examining the definition and history of the word civility. “Civility can be used as a tool to build or as a weapon to silence. For some, now is the time to restore civility. And for others, it's a time to be uncivil.”

Our Culture of Contempt March 2019 New York Times opinion piece from Arthur Brooks about how motive attribution asymmetry is affecting our society.

An exercise in civil discourse An Ellsworth American Letter to the Editor from the Make Shift Coffee House Organizing Committee in advance of the February 10th event.

Reaching Understanding in the Trump Presidency A recap of the Bowdoin Make Shift Coffee House (topic of the 45th Presidency) from a current student.

Kindness Is a Skill January 2019 New York Times opinion piece from David Brooks gives 13 practical tips for fighting a culture of savagery.

Can Better Angels Fix Politics Without Ending Partisanship?Rather than seeking a centrist compromise, Better Angels is treating division as a given—and trying to foster conversations across it. From The Atlantic, December 2018.

Fall 2018

How to Have a Conversation With Your Angry Uncle Over the Holidays

Just in time for the holidays, a real time chat bot to help you practice your civil conversation skills.

Conservatives In Kentucky, Liberals In Massachusetts Try To Bridge Political Divide - A WBUR Here and Now interview of conflict resolution expert Paula Green and Gwen Johnson who lead Hands Across The Hills, a dialogue between a group of liberal voters in Leverett, Massachusetts and conservative voters in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Recovering the (Lost) Art of Civility - A New York Times opinion piece that asks the question: Can anything be done to reduce the acrimony in American society?

The mid-terms produce a divided government for a divided country - A November 8th 2018 midterms recap article from The Economist 

What's Up With The Political Divide? A Community Discussion. - A recap of the Make Shift Coffee House October 2018 Bowdoin event.

The Make Shift Coffee House – a night of refreshing discussions and hope to narrow the divide  – A recap of the Make Shift Coffee House Windham event in the view of an event organizer.

Make Shift Coffee House to offer food, music and good old-fashioned civic conversation   An article leading into the event at the Windham Veteran’s Center in September 2018.

Spring/Summer 2018

In A Divided Era, One Thing Seems To Unite: Political Anger – An August 2018 New York Times article which provides data that supports the claim that partisan identification is now a bigger wedge between Americans than race, gender, religion or level of education.

One Group Tries To Lower The Volume On The High-Decibel Noise Dividing The Nation – June 2018 USA Today covers the the founding convention of an organization called Better Angels, formed by blue and red voters after Donald Trump’s election a year and a half ago.

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.

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

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

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


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

Deconstructing Empathy in the Digital Age 

This Impakter article from 2016 looks at a 2010 study from the University of Michigan. The compiled results examining college students over 30 years and found a 40% decrease in empathic capabilities over this time.