The organization Crossing Party Lines is a conversation oriented organization that targets the political divide in the United States between Republicans, Democrats, and anything in between through discussions about politically relevant topics. One of the books on the CPL moderator training resource list writes “The hard truth is, too often we engage with issues only in a search for information that will prove our point. We have been as guilty of that as anyone else” (Holland 2019). It’s quotes like these that brought us to our project we want to start with CPL. The project idea is to modify CPL’s existing moderator training to include training on how to host a meetup to discuss how to pick apart the multitude of climate change “facts” that exist in our post-truth world. As mentioned in our post “Everything in Moderation” we also hope to have the youth involved in the moderator training host a meetup after the 4-week training concludes, open to the public.
With diverse stakeholders and ideas in the mix, one question remains: how do we go about connecting the two into a project that makes an impact?
In our engagement deep-dive prior to choosing our project, we had many in-class discussions and related readings discussing effective engagement. One of the important pieces of the “how” was the different models of environmental communication, which very easily align with the CPL moderator training. The dialogic – contemporary – model of conversation will be crucial during the meetup which results from our moderator training.
Another principal element to this discussion of the “how” is a 2016 study about reducing transphobia through canvassing (can be found here) written by David Broockman and Joshua Kalla. The article proves the effectiveness of the dialogic model in showing that sustained and meaningful conversations can dismantle prejudice and bias across a multitude of social and environmental topics (Broockman 2016).
The first step to combining the stakeholders – the who – and the climate change “fact” meetup, would be to run our project proposal by Lisa Swallow the co-founder of CPL, and our contact at the organization. We need to make sure that our project is as exciting for them as it is for us, and that there are many positive effects that come from all of our efforts. Once the engagement project is, hopefully, greenlight we can move on to the second step. The second step will be to revise the existing CPL moderator training with Lisa Swallow – and possibly other CPL stakeholders – to include our “talking & listening environmental politics” aspects. This would also include adding some relevant articles and sources to the moderator training online resource library. The third step is to devise a plan for recruiting diverse Portland youth to take part in the moderator training. This would likely take the form of college campus emails, bulletin board posts across town, outreach over the CPL website, etc. The last component of the project would be to set up the climate change “fact” checking meetup after the moderator training happened. Essential to this step would be assembling pre-meetup reading material that is unbiased in its portrayal of environmental issues or climate change in order to set the groundwork for impartial discussion.
- Broockman, David, and Joshua Kalla. 2016. “Durably Reducing Transphobia: A Field Experiment on Door-to-Door Canvassing.” Science 352 (6282): 220–24. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aad9713.
- Holland, Sarah Stewart. 2019. I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations. Thomas Nelson.
- Proctor, Jim. n/a. “Models of Environmental Communication” Jim Proctor US. https://jimproctor.us/envs/models-of-environmental-communication/