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Frequently Asked Questions is an online platform that connects people with common interests.  Organizers schedule events, called “meetups.” gets the word out for us so people like you and I can attend.

The size of the Meetups range from 10 to 20, depending on the topic. Virtual Meetups are held online. We provide a moderator for every 12 to 15 participants. All participants must register in advance for Meetups.

Generally, our in-person Meetups represent the population where we’re meeting. Also, the topic we’re discussing influences who attends. Even when a meeting is attended by participants with similar political identification, we still  find conversation rewarding because no two persons believe the same things for the same reasons.

Yes, we do. The logo is red, white, and blue. It represents the American flag.

On Christmas Eve, 1914, British and German troops spontaneously and cautiously set aside hostilities in order to share holiday greetings. For one civil moment during a brutal war, enemies left their trenches and met each other halfway. Our name is inspired by that hopeful, human act.

CPL is more than a series of discussions. It is a community, with community norms built around the skills and practices that have proven successful in creating civil, respectful dialogue. Often times, the established norms keep the discussions civil. To reinforce (or create for new groups) these norms, we offer training for members, display posters that communicate best practices, and require that every meeting be facilitated by a moderator trained in the CPL methods.

Yes. One significant difference between a CPL meeting and other environments in which you might find yourself inclined to talk politics is that everyone in the room wants to hear your views. We come together to learn from one another. You will not be shunned or cast aside for sharing your views with the group.

Yes!  All are moderators have gone through our 4 week Moderator Training course and proven their readiness by running meetings under the supervision of one or both of CPL’s founders.

This training is online, self-paced, and free.  Each week, moderators-in-training work through four lessons, attend a virtual class meeting, and practice what they’ve learned in mock-discussions.

No. While facts matter, our discussions focus on why you have the facts you have and what you do with those facts. No one person can have all the facts, because we are all coming from a variety of walks of life. It’s even more humbling to learn why one person notices and remembers certain facts while another person remembers different facts.

That said, we provide links to reading material to use as a basis for each topic. Reading the material before the Meetup helps you form your own views about the same material other participants will read.

When you hear something that you know to be false, the one thing we do not want you to do is blame the speaker. That is, don’t call a speaker a liar or ignorant. Never accuse a speaker of being wrong or misinformed. Instead, we advise you to be take a closer look and ask clarifying questions.

  • Respond with “I’ve never heard that before,” or “That doesn’t line up with what I’ve read.”
  • Let it pass. Often, the more interesting part of the conversation comes before or after the facts.
  • Invite the speaker to look into that fact together: “That’s interesting. That goes counter to what I’ve heard. Would you be willing to look this up together so we can get on the same page before proceeding?”

No. CPL is about curiosity and civility—it’s not just a question of “what do you believe?” but also “how do your experiences lead to your beliefs?” and “what do you know that I don’t?” Until we start to see things from another’s point of view, we can’t begin to find common ground upon which we agree.

It’s based on a great deal of research spanning over the past 65 years on how to bring conflicting groups together and create a more comfortable environment for discussions. While being in the same room is important, that is not enough. CPL techniques are built on practices that have been tested and refined.

Probably not. One of the most common findings we learn through CPL discussions is that unless we actively seek out and consume media and information from all sides, we are only aware of a part of the whole picture. A person with a perspective differing significantly from yours is probably wired in a way that leads them to notice and remember different things than you, and most assuredly, is operating with different facts than you.

No.  But you will learn techniques that you can use to make it more likely that others will listen to what you have to say.

CPL is about being able to glimpse and see from another’s point of view, like walking in someone else’s shoes, at least for the moment. To be curious, we need to be open, which means that we’re willing to quiet the arguments that we build in our heads, and simply focus on listening more effectively.

We’re glad you have more questions and are here to listen.
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    The Two Types of Depolarization

    Depolarization — the work of reducing toxic polarization — is best understood in terms of the two types of polarization that shape our interactions and perceptions in today’s politically charged climate:

    1. Affective Polarization

    Affective polarization revolves around emotions and feelings. It refers to the emotional divide between individuals or groups with differing political views. It’s about how people feel about others who hold opposing ideologies.

    • Us vs. Them: In affective polarization, people tend to see those on the other side of the political spectrum as part of an “us vs. them” mentality. Emotions like anger, fear, and distrust often come into play.
    • Emotional Reactions: When encountering someone with opposing views, affectively polarized individuals may experience heightened emotions. They might feel threatened, defensive, or even hostile.
    • Echo Chambers: Social media and personalized news feeds can exacerbate affective polarization by reinforcing existing beliefs and isolating individuals from diverse perspectives.

    2. Cognitive Polarization

    Cognitive polarization focuses on thought processes and cognitive biases. It pertains to how people think about the views of others.

    • Discounting Opposing Views: Cognitive polarization leads to a tendency to discount opposing viewpoints without critically evaluating them. People may jump to conclusions, assuming that differing opinions lack validity or logical soundness.
    • Us vs. Them (Again): Just as in affective polarization, cognitive polarization reinforces the “us vs. them” mindset. It hinders open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity.
    • Intellectual Echo Chambers: Cognitive polarization occurs when people surround themselves with like-minded sources, reinforcing their preconceptions and avoiding exposure to alternative perspectives.

    The Interplay Between Affective and Cognitive Polarization

    Affective and cognitive polarization often feed into each other. Emotional reactions (affective) influence how we process information (cognitive), and vice versa.

    Breaking the Cycle: CPL recognizes that depolarization  requires us to address both affective and cognitive aspects. Encouraging empathy and  active listening is not enough.  We must also teach critical thinking and intellectual humility if we are to truly bridge the gap.

    About Bridging

    Bridging refers to the intentional effort to reduce toxic polarization by fostering understanding, empathy, and communication between individuals or groups with differing political views. It aims to build connections and discover our shared humanity, ultimately bridging the gaps that divides people along ideological lines.