Crossing Divides: a wider look at confronting conflict

Civic Nebraska took part in a three-state pilot project that confronted systemic and structural forces that tend to exacerbate contemporary divisions.

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Last fall, Civic Nebraska gathered Nebraskans together to discuss their media habits and perceptions as part of a project called Crossing Divides – a pilot program for groups in Arizona, Mississippi, and Nebraska who work to resolve conflicts in their communities, across aisles and despite differences.

For our part, we looked at participants’ perceptions of trustworthy news source characteristics and concerns about media, and also how those perceptions and concerns influenced participants’ daily news habits. The gathering produced several interesting takeaways, which you can read all about here. Our Civic Health team is using those insights as a starting point in conversations with community groups around the state, as we explore individual and community-led solutions to improve Nebraskans’ relationships with news and media.

This week, we’re grateful to the Kindle Project and the Cotyledon Fund – which made Crossing Divides possible – for sharing the bigger picture of what our 11 partners gleaned from their individual projects, as well. All addressed vital needs and crises, and along the way confronted systemic and structural forces that tend to exacerbate contemporary divisions.

In Kindle’s words:

We suspected that at the community level people are working, often under the radar, to resolve critical conflicts and build or restore the trust necessary to cooperate with each other through future challenges and upheaval. We wanted to support community groups doing this work and learn from and with them about what it takes. If we can draw one conclusion from this pilot program, it’s that people are hungry to bridge divides. Even within our narrow geographic scope, we found that people from many different backgrounds are dedicated, as they have been for years, to resolve a wide range of conflicts. Most of the national discourse and mainstream media coverage misses the important nuance and the long-term implications of these efforts.

We’re thankful for the Kindle Project’s thoughtful work, and are eager to continue our work in bridging divides, encouraging Nebraskans to stay engaged and committed to speaking truth, suspending judgment, and getting to the source of conflict.

Read The Kindle Project’s reflections on the overall project here.

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