Finding Common Ground in an America That Will Not Agree
In a time of an extremely divided America, Bruce Bond works with his team to develop common ground and inspire others to create positive change.
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Bruce Bond has always had a love of politics; he studied it in college and has found great value in political engagement. But over the past several years, American politics has morphed into a new beast, something very different from what he had studied and admired.
“It had come to the point where there was a lot of demonizing going on, where if you disagree with me politically, then there’s something wrong with your character,” Bruce explains. “We just felt that was a really dangerous thing.”
He and his childhood friend, Erik Olsen, developed an idea of putting people from opposing viewpoints on stage together and then asking them to find points of agreement. The Common Ground Committee was first a side job, something Bruce and Erik would do when they had some spare time. But after two extremely successful events — one in the wake of the 2018 Charlottesville protests and another with John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice — the side job started to gain traction. Not long afterwards, Bruce quit his decades-long IT career to develop Common Ground Committee into a full-time nonprofit.
As the country grows more divided over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans, the national response to the coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming presidential election, Bruce hopes that the public uses these meetings of the minds as the foundation for difficult but civil conversations.
“When people are awakened to the seriousness of a problem or what is possible either way, they start to move differently and they start to think and act differently and speak differently than what they've done in the past,” he says. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Listen to the complete episode with Bruce Bond to hear more about Common Ground Committee’s “grass-tops” approach, the exhausted majority and Bruce’s high school experience with the notion of try, try, try again.
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- Cathilea Robinett, President of e.Republic: Special Episode
- Miles K. Davis, President of Linfield College
- Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of N.Y. YMCA
- Toni Carter, County Commissioner for Ramsey County, Minn.
- Harry Black, City Manager of Stockton, Calif.
- John Wetzel, Secretary of Corrections for Pa.
- Alisha Bell, Commission Chair of Wayne County, Mich.
- Mary Ann Borgeson, County Commissioner of Douglas County, Neb.
- Betty Yee, State Controller of Calif.
- Serena DiMaso, New Jersey Assembly Member
- Clay Jenkinson, Governing's Editor-at-Large and Humanities Scholar
- Bryan Barnett, Mayor of Rochester Hills, Mich. and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors
- Ryan Coonerty, County Supervisor of Santa Cruz, Calif.
- Lydia Mihalik, Director of Ohio's Development Services Agency
- Chris Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento, Calif.
- Affie Ellis, State Senator, Wyo.
- Beth Niblock, CIO of Detroit, Mich.
- Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, Calif.
- Ed O’Keefe, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation
- Blair Milo, Ind.'s first Secretary of Career Connections and Talent
- Phil Bertolini, Co-Director, Center for Digital Government
- Jo Ann Davidson, Ohio State Representative
- Dow Constantine, Executive of King County, Wash.
- Harry LaRosiliere, Mayor of Plano, Texas
- Rebecca Rhynhart, City Controller of Philadelphia
- Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University
- Mayors Melvin Carter of St. Paul, Minn.; Jenn Daniels of Gilbert, Ariz.; Jacob Frey of Minneapolis; and Francis Suarez of Miami, Fla.
- Chris Castro, Director of Sustainability for Orlando, Fla.
- Kim Foxx, State's Attorney for Cook County, Ill.
- Doug Burgum, Governor of N.D.
- Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio
- Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, S.C.
- Kristen Cox, Executive Director of Utah Office of Management and Budget
- Acquanetta Warren, Mayor of Fontana, Calif.
- Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, Ky.
- Themis Klarides, Minority Leader of the Conn. House