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Areas of Agreement

Areas of Agreement

By Elia Powers

One of the most dangerous divisions in the United States is between urban and rural communities. The urban-rural divide runs deep. Resentment is widespread, and clashes over politics and culture can turn violent. One nonpartisan organization is trying to bridge the divide. This series examines a multiyear effort to help people on both sides build relationships, find common ground and take on systemic problems that impact everyone.
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Episode 12: Bridging Generational Divides and Rebuilding Trust
Episode 12: Bridging Generational Divides and Rebuilding Trust
Conversations around diversity often focus on race, gender, politics, socioeconomic status, geography,  even education level. What about generational diversity? We are an age-diverse society, with almost equal numbers of people alive from every stage of life. But often, generations are siloed, leading to division and misunderstanding. This episode features conversations with leaders in the movement to bring older and younger generations together to bridge divides. First, Eunice Lin Nichols, co-CEO of CoGenerate, and Dr. Cal Halvorsen, a senior research fellow at CoGenerate and an assistant professor at Boston College, discuss a recent study on what Americans think about cogeneration, and how to make intergenerational initiatives successful. Then, Joe Bubman of Urban-Rural Action and Deborah Tien of Common Agency/UR Action speak about being Gen2Gen Innovation Fellows, and Tien discusses how her organization is seeking to build a new type of neighborhood network online and in person.  Host Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org/) REPORT: Cogeneration: A National Opinion Survey from Encore.org (now CoGenerate) with NORC at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak Panel (https://tinyurl.com/3tud4cs9) Common agency (https://commonagency.org/) Credit: Music By Blue Dot Sessions
32:14
December 21, 2022
Episode 11: What We Mean When We Talk About Polarization
Episode 11: What We Mean When We Talk About Polarization
Polarization is typically thought of as being bad. We’re so polarized, the narrative goes, that we can’t find common ground. But what exactly is polarization? Is it always bad? Is there such a thing as good polarization? In their book, The Philosophy of Group Polarization, Dr. Fernando Broncano-Berrocal & Dr. J. Adam Carter argue that group polarization is a neutral phenomenon, and they present ways that groups can polarize in epistemically good ways. Alex Sussman sits down with the co-authors to discuss their findings and recommendations. Elia Powers speaks with Urban-Rural Action's Joe Bubman about his thoughts on polarization and how groups taking part in UR Action programs can deliberate effectively and take action.  Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org/) The Philosophy of Group Polarization  Credit: Music By Blue Dot Sessions
29:06
December 15, 2022
Episode 10: Supporting Small Businesses
Episode 10: Supporting Small Businesses
People from across the political spectrum, young and old, urban and rural often find common ground on the importance of supporting small business owners. This episode follows a group put together by Urban-Rural Action that aims to support immigrant entrepreneurship on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Small business owners from Easton, Maryland, share the joys and challenges of running a company. Staff members from the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center discuss what they learned from these interviews and how the center can address business owners' challenges.    Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org/) Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center (https://chesmrc.org/)
34:53
June 13, 2022
Episode 9: The State of Public Discourse on Campus
Episode 9: The State of Public Discourse on Campus
Urban-Rural Action, with support from Heterodox Academy, has done a series of workshops with college students on how to have dialogues across difference. The need for this training is clear. Students often go through school without having constructive conversations with people they disagree with, and research shows that they are often hesitant to express their views on divisive topics. In this episode, two students share what they learned from a recent workshop, what it's like trying to encourage thoughtful deliberation on their campus, and why that can be a challenge. A professor who has dedicated his career to promoting a culture of debate and deliberation describes how he goes about doing that inside and outside the classroom. We discuss the need for viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement, and examine the state of public discourse on college and university campuses.  Host:  Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More:  Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org/) Heterodox Academy (https://heterodoxacademy.org/) Program for Public Discourse at UNC (https://publicdiscourse.unc.edu/) 2021 Campus Expression Survey (https://heterodoxacademy.org/campus-expression-survey/)
32:28
June 02, 2022
Episode 8: On Political Violence
Episode 8: On Political Violence
One year after Jan. 6, 2021, Urban-Rural Action and partner organization Lead for America took part in the first National Day of Dialogue. In this episode, representatives from both organizations discuss how they felt on the anniversary of the insurrection, how they define political violence, what they make of a recent poll showing that roughly one-third of Americans say violence against government can be justified, and what questions they would ask people who share that view.  Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org) Lead for America (https://www.lead4america.org/)  National Day of Dialogue (https://www.nationaldayofdialogue.com/)  Poll: (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/01/1-3-americans-say-violence-against-government-can-be-justified-citing-fears-political-schism-pandemic/) 
25:29
January 09, 2022
Episode 7: Representing Rural America
Episode 7: Representing Rural America
In this episode, an interview with an author who is part of a cottage industry of books about the political and cultural forces shaping rural America. I asked him why he decided to write about Nebraska, who his audience is and why there seems to be so much fascination among people who live urban areas about the small rural town where he grew up. In part two of this episode, an interview with a rural resident who's heavily involved in Urban-Rural Action about the recent attention paid to rural America and why it can be difficult to engage people from these communities in initiatives that aim to bridge the divide between urban and rural. Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org)  Rural Rebellion by Ross Benes (https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-3045-5.html) Op-ed by Joe Bubman (https://www.yesmagazine.org/opinion/2021/04/09/build-bridges-peace)
28:34
May 08, 2021
Episode 6: Reimagining Rural Community Colleges
Episode 6: Reimagining Rural Community Colleges
Community colleges -- especially in rural areas -- often get little attention. But they are immensely important to their regional economies. In this episode, the Uniting for Action America economy team helps the nonprofit Education Design Lab on a multi-year initiative to create new pathways to postsecondary attainment and economic opportunity in rural communities.  Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org) Education Design Lab's Bridges Rural Program (https://eddesignlab.org/project/bridgesrural/) Zane State College (https://www.zanestate.edu) "Old Muskingum" by The Wayfarers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3AUovTFeTQ)
29:57
April 23, 2021
Episode 5: Life in a Local News Desert
Episode 5: Life in a Local News Desert
Hundreds of urban and rural counties in the U.S. don't have access to credible and comprehensive information that helps residents make decisions about quality of life issues. These places are commonly known as news deserts. This episode explains the rise of news deserts and explores the consequences with a case study of Caroline County, Virginia. How has losing a local newspaper affected the community? How do people get access to news and information about COVID-19?  Host:  Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More:  Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org) News Desert Project (https://www.usnewsdeserts.com) News Literacy Project COVID-19 resources (https://newslit.org/coronavirus/) Study: "Life in a News Desert: The Perceived Impact of a Newspaper Closure on Community Members" (bit.ly/lifeinanewsdesert) Tony Ares (http://www.becomingdisciplined.com)
39:32
March 21, 2021
Episode 4: Dear Senator
Episode 4: Dear Senator
Education funding disparities affect K-12 schools in both urban and rural communities. One report found that Pennsylvania schools are the nation's most inequitable. This fourth episode focuses on a group of state residents who sent to lawmakers a letter advocating for changes in the way they allocate money to schools.  Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org) Taking Action for Equitable Funding in Pennsylvania (https://www.uraction.org/pa-edu.html)
29:40
January 27, 2021
Episode 3: Understand, Then Be Understood
Episode 3: Understand, Then Be Understood
Dialogue alone won't solve complex societal problems. But complex societal problems are hard to address without constructive conversations across difference. This third episode examines proven approaches to having conversations on divisive issues. One common theme: Seek to understand, don't just seek to be understood. Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org) Solutions Journalism Network (https://www.solutionsjournalism.org) Amanda Ripley's "Complicating the Narratives" (https://thewholestory.solutionsjournalism.org/complicating-the-narratives-b91ea06ddf63)
41:27
January 27, 2021
Episode 2: Everyone Eats
Episode 2: Everyone Eats
Food might be the ideal topic for people living in cities and rural areas to unite around. Lack of access to food affects all communities. This second episode examines efforts to reduce food waste and food insecurity. Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org) Taking Action on Wood Waste (https://www.uraction.org/u4a-food.html) Urban-Rural Collaboration on Environmental and Food Justice (https://www.uraction.org/academic.html)
28:19
December 02, 2020
Episode 1: America's Urban-Rural Fault Line
Episode 1: America's Urban-Rural Fault Line
Experts describe the urban-rural divide as one of the biggest fault lines in the United States. This first episode explores some fundamental questions: What causes the division? Why is it getting more pronounced? Why do we resent people who don't live in the kind of places we do? What can be done to bridge the divide? Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (https://www.uraction.org) Research: "Divided By Place: The Enduring Geographic Fault Lines of American Politics" (https://libraetd.lib.virginia.edu/public_view/mp48sd42g)
29:35
November 25, 2020