Building Bridges

Here are examples or methods of bringing diverse groups together.

Stories / Newspaper Articles/ Songs  "Old Joe and the Carpenter" A traveling carpenter is asked to build a fence to separate the properties of two feuding former friends.  Where Am I From – a personal story about what Kate Dudding learned from her DNA analysis.  The Tent of Abraham – a meeting of an interfaith story circle which brought together strangers – Jews, Christians and Muslims – all people who consider Abraham a patriarch. They listened respectfully to each other’s stories about Abraham, accepting the commonalities and the differences.

Videos / Images

What the world calls me is not me. We're all taught how to label people. But my label isn't me.

Storyteller Liz Weir from Northern Ireland writes about using stories as part of a peaceful resolution to “The Troubles”.  "If people take the time to listen to another’s story they are paying them respect. Even if the other person holds views which are diametrically opposed to our own, the very act of listening to their stories is important. It acknowledges them as members of a shared society."

A Charlotte church put up a sign about its Muslim neighbors. Then the neighbors answered. Tonight they'll be sharing a meal. 4-13-17

We live in a time where we quickly put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think.

StoryCorps is asking for your help to ensure that listening to one another — truly listening — continues to be woven into the fabric of American society. Join the Listening Challenge:

Sally Kohn, a progressive lesbian talking head, shares what she has learned from debating people on Fox News. She says that you must be emotional correct, which is much more important than being politically correct. You must find the compassion for those who don’t agree with you,  that kind of compassion that you would like them to have for yourself. This isn’t easy.

A favorite email that she received started: “I’m not a big fan of your political leanings, but I’m a big fan of you as a person.” That’s a good beginning for a real discussion.

Rev. William Barber, Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina, offers some words of hope. “People have always stood up.” He established a “Moral Monday” as a rallying point about moral issues, holding race and class together. Maybe it’s our time to stand up. "We will never give up on the heart of this democracy."

Lancaster, PA has been welcoming refugees for years and intends to continue doing just that 2-1-17  Heartsong United Methodist Church near Memphis, TN welcomed their new Muslim neighbors in 2010. Their friendships continue to grow. Danish video which demonstrates the many ways people are similar 2-1-17


 A group of people from around the world find out the results of their DNA analyses, and find out they have much more in common than they thought.

                          Travis Park TX United Methodist Church. 1-31-17  Empathy Is Tough to Teach, But Is One Of the Most Important Life Lessons   Dr. BrenĂ© Brown explains the importance of empathy and how to cultivate it. The four qualities of empathy, as defined by Theresa Wiseman and presented by Dr. Brown, are:
  1.     Perspective taking – being able to take the perspective of another person
  2.    Staying out of judgement
  3.    Recognizing emotion in another person
  4.    Communicating that emotion – feeling with that person A full elevator in an apartment building with everyone but a lady preoccupied with their iPhones inspires the lady to hold an unannounced potluck supper in the hall. Neighbors meet each other and share what they’ve brought. #EatTogether from Canada150

The footage was taken at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, and the PSA turned the Kiss Cam into an opportunity to highlight love’s different forms over the traditional Kiss Cam.  According to the Ad Council, the video featured “real families, couples and friends across different races, religions, genders, sexualities, abilities and ages.”

Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of Westboro Baptist Church, presented a TED Talk Feb. 2017 explaining how she learned to successfully engage across ideological lines:
  • Don’t assume bad intent.
  • Ask questions.
  • Stay calm.
  • Make the argument for your position.

A group of Syrian refugees were brought to the Vatican for lunch with the Pope in August 2016. Pope Francis says he wants to give a message of hope to all humanity. This video explains how annoying, and sometimes how destructive, stupid comments can be to minorities when heard over and over and over again.

At Boca Raton High School, no one eats lunch alone anymore. Senior Denis Estimon, who immigrated from Haiti 12 years ago,  and his friends started a group called “We Dine Together.” The campus has been transformed. “We reach the un-reached,” says teacher adviser Jordan Hernandez.

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