April 6, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

In March, three Fellows joined our team for The Practicing Democracy Project. Habib Todd Boerger, pursuing a Ph.D. at Claremont School of Theology where he is studying spiritual formation and leadership in Christianity and Islam, comes to us with a strong
interest in religious pluralism and building interfaith bridges. Julie Davis, in the first year of the Master of Divinity Program at CST with a focus on Interfaith Chaplaincy, has a background in teaching high school; she is passionate about the intersection of spiritual practices and social change. Kristin Ritzau -- an adjunct professor, community activist, spiritual director, author, and researcher -- completed her Ph.D. in Spirituality at CST and is exploring the expression of spirituality in communities.  

All three are looking for the deep connections that occur when spirituality is practiced, both internally and in society, making them ideal colleagues for us on The Practicing Democracy Project. We are excited to have their insights and energies, which are already invested in helping us identify and develop new spiritual practices relevant to the project, network with various constituencies, and create program plans.

Hannah Zuckerberg, a sophomore at Pitzer College who's doing a field placement with S&P this spring, is almost done with her report for you on the themes that have emerged from our Practicing Democracy survey. You can still take the survey, if you haven't yet or if you have more to tell us. It's here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5JWJD3T  

Below are links to new content for the Project on the website.
Salaam, Shalom, Shanti, Peace,

The Practicing Democracy Project Team

Topic: Conversations
How can you ensure that a real exchange happens when you talk with others about democracy? How can you allow differences to enrich the conversation rather than cut it short? As we asked ourselves these questions -- relevant to everything from dinner-time conversations to town-hall meetings -- we searched for articles, books, films, prayers, quotes, spiritual practices, videos, organizations, and other resources to shed light on this crucial dynamic. Here is a sampling of this content.

Being open to others. Dealing with tension in a dialogue. Exploring differences. Maintaining balance. These 25 practices give you a range of tools to make sure that your next conversations, even with difficult people, yield true insights and stronger connections. Please let us know what happens when you try them! (To report on your practice experiences, just "reply" to this email.)  

From comedy to morality tales to sophisticated drama and even Westerns, we can learn a lot about dynamic conversations -- what works and what doesn't -- by observing the ones depicted in films.
Videos for Skillful Conversations
Fearless dialogues, Pacing and pausing. Compassionate listening. Enhance your conversation skills with help from Celeste Headless, Gregory Ellison II, Deborah Tannen, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Oprah.

Conversation Books
Want to go from arguing to artful? Experts like social scientist Sherry Turkle, The Three Amigos interfaith guides, and Diane M. Millis, founder of the Journey Conversations Project, give you a multi-faceted view of a wide range of skills you can cultivate.
Program Plans
Planning a dialogue-oriented event? These program plans help animate a  gatherings of friends, family, or diverse strangers in productive conversations.

"People who repel us are our mirrors," writes Frank Rogers in Practicing Compassion. Enjoy this illustrated quote and others, available to share on your favorite social-media platform.

Websites and Organizations
Yearning to know more? These centers, foundations, consortiums, and other programs bring you online resources and in-person events to take your conversations into further new horizons. Several specialize in cultivating conversations among people who hold different perspectives.  

Birthday of Paul Robeson
April 9

The birthday of Paul Robeson, a Democracy Mentor, is this Monday. Robeson won international acclaim as a concert performer, stage actor, recording artist, and film actor. He spoke out against American racism and in support of the working-class poor even when his political stands ravaged his career. Refresh your memory about his legacy with this biography, film review, and quotes. 

Frederic and Julie are working on more "Naming the Days" features on Democracy Mentors. So check that section regularly for new additions. Those part of the project are marked (PDP). Next week, for example, we'll have a profile of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the first farm workers union.
The Practicing Democracy Project is a collaboration between The Center for Spirituality & Practice and the Fetzer Institute. Seek more at PracticingDemocracy.net