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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

Workshop to discuss 'Science of Polarization'

Below is a press release about a program our church helped bring to the area.


It doesn’t take much to realize that society is increasingly polarized and that this polarization has had a deep impact upon Ottawa County and the Tri-Cities area. To seek to help us overcome those divides, the Ottawa Coalition of Unifying Christians (OCUC) is hosting a workshop with the One America Movement on Thursday, April 11, at 6pm at the Grand Hall above Porto Bello. Participants can register for the workshop at http://unifyingchristians.com/polarization.


The One America Movement is a national nonprofit that provides bottom-up solutions to confront America’s growing social and political divides. Using a neuroscience-based approach, the organization reduces toxic polarization by providing tools and programs for faith-based communities committed to working across divides to solve common societal issues.


One way that the One America Movement is unique is that it is funded by grants from foundations on all sides of the political spectrum. Funders include the Stand Together Foundation (founded by Charles Koch of the conservative Koch brothers), the left-of-center Democracy Fund led by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and the liberal Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.


Despite their political differences, all of these organizations agree with the One America Movement that toxic polarization divides communities, fuels violence, and makes progress on critical issues nearly impossible. In a study cited by the One America Movement, 93% of Americans express a desire to see these divisions reduced.


Though OCUC was founded by local Ottawa county faith leaders in opposition to the growth of Christian nationalism in the area, the organization is excited by the possibilities that this workshop might help us overcome some of the divisions in Ottawa County so that we can find ways once more to work together on issues that affect the common good of all residents.


“My own more progressive political views are well known, but I truly cherish the deep relationships I have with several of my more conservative colleagues in the area,” said the Rev. Dr. Jared Cramer, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church and steering committee member of OCUC. “Growing up in a conservative family here in Grand Haven, so much of the current language and dialogue is simply foreign to the conservatism I knew growing up. I also know that those on the extremes of any political party don’t truly represent most of my conservative friends and colleagues. I truly believe that all of us–liberal or conservative or in between–are not nearly as far apart as it feels at times. I’m hoping this workshop can help us understand and bridge those divides.”


The workshop itself will be led by Kevin McIntosh and will be an interactive experience where will explore the myths of toxic polarization and explore the neurological and social science behind our divisions. McIntosh will help participants explore questions like, “Why do we act the way we act when faced with people and situations that challenge our beliefs?” Understanding what is behind polarization, we will better able to bridge the divides that separate us.


Since the workshop is two hours, from 6pm-8pm, there will be snacks available for participants during the workshop. The registration cost of $15 is to cover the costs of the event and the food.


Anyone in the community is welcome to register to attend by going to http://unifyingchristians.com/polarization.


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