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Mark is no armchair philosopher; he’s facilitated retreats for members of Congress and has a long and distinguished history of work on transpartisanship. His recent book, The Reunited States of America, is winning kudos from left and right. And his work on conflict resolution is recognized as world-class.
During this 7-week program, Mark will distill a lifetime of learnings into practices that can help you heal the partisan divides in your life. He’ll also be integrating other top political experts, luminaries, visionaries, trailblazers and change agents into the curriculum.
And the best part is that these principles apply far beyond partisan politics — they’ll help you navigate any conflict or difference. You’ll come away with valuable skills that can benefit every area of your life from here on out.
- Understand the roots of political divisiveness and how to address them in a systematic way
- Discover how to make an important shift that leads to more connected discussions
- Receive insights into how to let go of control and focus on deepening relationships
- See how to champion the “whole truth” and move beyond position-taking to problem-solving
- Develop more skill in opening to deeper listening and mutual understanding
- Discover pathways to bold solutions that transcend partisan politics
- Help reclaim the full power of our democracy
- Engage in innovative and inspired actions
- Learn about a larger community with resources and connections for you to tap into
- Expand your understanding of ways to make your voice heard and your vote count
- Receive processes that enable you to see opposing sides and possibilities for common ground
The need for us to come together has never been greater, not just for our own sake but for the good of the planet.
The path toward common ground can seem daunting at times — listening respectfully to opposing views, searching for mutual understanding, and collaborating across party lines toward real solutions.
You’re invited to take your place among citizens who are helping actualize the full power of democracy and create a more positive politics built around respect, kindness, civility and dignity.
By taking this program, you put yourself on the path to being an everyday civic leader who can unite different perspectives by focusing on common ground and alignment, leading to win-win outcomes.
If you want your hope for democracy restored and your passion rekindled for constructive political discourse — and you want to develop valuable skills for transcending partisan divisiveness — this is the program for you!
What You’ll Discover in These 7 Weeks
Course sessions are on Thursdays at 5:00pm Pacific.
In this 7-week transformational intensive, Mark will guide you through the fundamental skills and competencies you’ll need to heal partisan divides and build respectful, mutually beneficial relationships.
Each weekly LIVE session will build harmoniously upon the next so that you’ll develop a complete understanding of the practices, tools and principles you’ll need to sustain your engagement as a change-making citizen.
Key Actions: Grounding, Embodying, Aligning
Guest: Melissa Michaels
The blessing and curse of politics is that it takes us beyond ourselves — it’s a blessing because it connects us to something greater than ourselves; and it’s a curse because we often abandon ourselves and lose our inner power in the process.
This first session focuses on grounding ourselves in our own experience: our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and yes, our souls. When we’re embodied and aligned, we’re are far less likely to be triggered into reflexive hyperpartisan responses. Instead, we can bring our whole selves into action and discover opportunities to create the world we want.
In this module, you’ll:
- Experience the “transpartisan transformation” by going to the balcony
- Rediscover what dignity and decency look and sound like in our leaders (and ourselves)
- Reclaim an inner sense of wholeness and connection with ourselves, others and our nation
- Reground ourselves in the wisdom of our bodies, and let it teach us about political divides and how to embody wholeness
- Understand the brain science behind why conflict hijacks the amygdala and undercuts the neocortex
- Preview the remarkable mindsets, skillsets and toolsets that can help us heal political divides
- Empower yourself to “open up” your heart and to recognize and recover when your heart “shuts down”
Melissa Michaels, EdD is a body-centered educator, founder of Golden Bridge and author of Youth On Fire, whose leadership program has empowered hundreds of social entrepreneurs and peacebuilders around the world.
From Control to Relationship (September 15)
Key Action: Embracing Paradox
Guest: Barbara Edwards
When we bring our whole, grounded selves to politics, we’re less likely to be seduced by partisanship. We’ll be better able to defend ourselves against politicians’ favorite weapons: polarizing language. The Left and Right fight about these kinds of word pairs: (1) Change or stability? (2) Liberty or authority? (3) Freedom or order? (4) Public service or free enterprise? (5) Secularism or spirituality?
However, as we discovered in the previous session, our healthy common humanity embraces both. We are each unique integrations of left and right. In this week’s session, we’ll develop a civic practice that does not lead to embracing one side and disowning the other, but instead enables us to hold paradox — and transform it into effective civic action.
In this module, you’ll:
- Rekindle the flame of discovery (Chapter 1: Reunited States of America)
- Liberate yourself from “partisan prison” by embracing paradox: beyond the bias bubble
- Practice the art of listening more effectively to one’s adversary or “enemy:” political cross-training
- Re-explore our “political identity” and uncover the roots of our attachment to opinions and positions
- Become aware of the dependent-independent-interdependent arc of our lives (with Barbara Edwards, drawing from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People )
- Become skilled at “getting to yes with yourself” (with William Ury)
Barbara Edwards, an experienced leadership coach and senior consultant with the Franklin Covey Company, has taught leadership and conflict resolution to thousands of people around the globe.
Key Actions: Debate, Dialogue
Guest: Ron Kertzner
When we act as whole beings capable of holding complexity, we can speak and lead with greater confidence and creativity. While the specific challenges and problems we face depend on the setting (family, community, workplace, electoral politics), the mindsets, skillsets and toolsets for healing divides are similar.
In this session, we’ll explore some of the specific skills and tools for “political cross-training.” We have many skills and tools at our fingertips, including advocacy/debate and inquiry/dialogue. Once we awaken to our own inner freedom, we can use these skills and tools to transcend polarization and begin solving the tough problems of today.
In this module, you’ll:
- Shift your mindset from taking prefabricated positions to solving problems
- Access the full range of leadership styles and eight “forms of discourse”
- Frame issues so they lean toward solutions rather than toward division
- Bring abstract, polarized conversations down to earth
Ron Kertzner is the co-founder of ChoicePoint Consulting and an experienced leadership development trainer, facilitator, and coach for major corporations, non-profit organizations and, most recently, for the Obama and Clinton Presidential campaigns.
Key Action: Bridging Divides (Conflict Resolution)
Guest: William Ury
Building on the first three modules, this session directly addresses the fundamental principles and basic practices of conflict resolution. “Embracing paradox” and “debate/dialogue” are part of a broader set of skills that are part of the “Mediator’s Toolkit.”
This module showcases the tools we’ll need to address the specific conflicts in our lives and in our communities. Some of these tools are inner capacities (integral vision, systems thinking, presence and inquiry), while others are outer capacities (conscious conversation, dialogue, bridging and innovation). All are a vital part of healing political divides.
In this module, you’ll:
- Distinguish between Hot and Cold Conflict and discover how to find the right temperature for transforming “cooking” conflict
- Make the shift in mindset from “accomodate” or “dominate” to negotiate
- Release self-righteousness: the climate change case study
- Become an empowered “third side” who is strong enough to mediate adversarial situations
- Focus on where you can make a difference
Dr. William Ury, lecturer at the Harvard Negotiation Project, is the author of Getting To Yes and other books on working through conflict.
Module 5: From Theory to Practice, Part I (October 6)
Key Action: Applying Skills to Current Issues
Guest: Bill Shireman
This module will focus on several specific political issues that are currently being debated in the 2016 election. Issues may include: gun policy, immigration policy, foreign policy and campaign finance. We’ll apply the skills learned in sessions 1-4 to these issues and take the first practical steps toward learning how we can most effectively convene (or participate in) generative cross-partisan dialogues that lead to discovery, relationship building and actual problem solving.
In this module, you’ll:
- Apply the core principle of Collaboration Leadership
- Understand how to frame an issue in an inclusive, solutions-oriented way
- Ensure that the “whole system” participates in the conversation
- Develop reliable, balanced information for the dialogues
- Design the right process to achieve your goals
Bill Shireman, a San Francisco Republican, is the founding President of Future 500, an organization that unites corporations and activists, and Republicans and Democrats, to protect the environment and find sustainable solutions to other tough social problems.
Module 6: From Theory to Practice, Part II (October 13)
Key Action: Applying Skills to Participants’ Issues of Choice
Guest: John Steiner
Unlike the previous session, this module will focus on specific issues provided by participants. Based on feedback gathered from participants about the issues they’re wrestling with, we’ll apply the skills and tools learned in earlier sessions to participants’ actual leadership challenges. Since we cannot focus on every individual case study, the Shift staff will identify issues where participants’ interests “cluster.” We’ll focus this workshop session on meeting those specific personal/professional needs.
In this module, you’ll:
- Understand your own “stake” in the issue
- Sequence inquiry (dialogue) and advocacy (debate)
- Develop the authority to convene, and tackle the issue of “credibility”
- Determine when to facilitate ourselves, and address the complex issue of “neutrality”
John Steiner is co-founder of the Bridge Alliance, a network of more than 40 bridge-building organizations, and a key catalyst of the transpartisan movement in America.
Building on modules 5 and 6, module 7 provides practical introductions to organizations, initiatives and self-organizing activities that participants can continue with after the course ends. Suggested activities will be based in part on what participants identified in module 6 to be their areas of keenest interest and deepest concern.
Participants will ideally leave the course with connection to specific organizations that align with their interests, and/or the tools to launch their own initiatives. After providing an overview of the Bridge Alliance (40 organizations), specific mention will be made of such organizations as:
- Women & Mothers (MomsRising; ItsTimeNetwork)
- Education (Civic Mission of the Schools; Convergence)
- College students (BridgeUSA; Roosevelt; Kettering)
- Universities (UNCG; Heterodox Academy)
- Media (SJN; JTM; Allsides; LinkTV)
- Civic Tech (TheChisel; Civic Hall)
- Young People (Action for America; change.org)
- Listening/Facilitating (PCP; Everyday Democracy; American Public Square; Village Square)
- Professional Network (NCDD)
- Business (Future500; Just Capital)
- Congress (No Labels; Millennial Action Project)
- Religion/Faith (Communities Creating Opportunity; Faith and Politics Institute)
- Health Nutrition (Citizens for Health)
- New Leadership (Rodel Fellows; Nevins Democracy Leaders Program)
- Beyond Left & Right (Liberty Coalition; Institute for Cultural Evolution; Centrist Project; Purple Tent)