Posted by Sheryl Johnson on March 2, 2020

I have always been amazed at how much more I notice when I slow down. A street that I have driven down looks so different by bike, and even more detail emerges when I am walking. Walking meditatively brings the details to a whole new level, especially when done intentionally with someone else.

I am a person who tends to move through the world fairly quickly . . .

Posted by Sheryl Johnson on February 3, 2020

Generally, when I consider online conversations, I think of stark polarization and echo chambers — people harshly judging others across differences or just connecting with those who are similar to them and re-affirming what they have to say. I was surprised by my experience of participating in an online conversation through “Living Room Conversations,” as it was neither of those things.

Instead, it was personal, it was respectful, it was nuanced . . .

Posted by Aizaiah Yong on January 27, 2020

I first met Victor Akioyame when we worked together in the student affairs office at a small liberal arts university in California. We became close friends due to our shared interests and passion for diversity, inclusion, and conversations on spirituality. Victor is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention and works as a student life professional at Vanguard University (VU) in Costa Mesa, California, where he ministers to students, staff, and faculty.

In his work, Akioyame has witnessed how spiritual practices can build healthy communities . . .

Posted by Guest Contributor on January 20, 2020

This post has been contributed by Susan Strouse, a retired Lutheran minister who is author of The INTRAfaith Conversation and an organizer of an initiative called Hearts Across the Divide: Reclaiming Civil Discourse. She hopes to submit a second post about this initiative in Spring 2020, after the final stage of their program.

Is it possible to have a civil conversation with your political polar opposite? From personal experience I know that it is. I feel so strongly about this that I, along with another organizer, began an initiative called Hearts Across the Divide: Reclaiming Civil Discourse. Our goal is to bring together two groups from the San Francisco Bay Area — one on the political left and one on the right — for training, facilitated dialogue, relationship-building, and hopefully restoration of civil discourse, at least in our little part of the world.

Now you might think that living in one of the bluest parts . . .

Posted by Sheryl Johnson on January 13, 2020

When I first moved to Berkeley, California, almost three years ago, someone told me about the NextDoor app. I signed up right away and soon discovered that it is a great way to connect with your neighbors. People post about free lemons and plant cuttings. They request help with odd jobs like weeding. They share details about upcoming events like community open mic nights and movies in the park. People generously responded when I asked to borrow some snowshoes (for a trip). And there are, sadly, many posts about missing (but also some found!) pets.

Immediately through NextDoor, I felt more connected . . .

Posted by Margaret Wakeley on January 6, 2020

Societies depend on dialogue to function well. These days social media allows us to talk more than ever, but often that means declaring our opinions: talking "at" instead of "to" others. This approach leads to further alienation.

Instead of setting out to change minds, we need to start with understanding . . .

Posted by Sheryl Johnson on December 30, 2019

On December 12, 2019 the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) hosted a “Democracy Fair and Comedy Night” at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. The event began with a fair that featured a variety of community organizations including the ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the San Francisco Department of Elections, the Sierra Club, and the Practicing Democracy Project (represented by me!).

During the fair, held in the atrium of the Community Center, dozens of people came by . . .

Posted by Aizaiah Yong on December 23, 2019

Practicing democracy in a diverse community does not need to be stressful or tense. At the small apartment complex in Southern California where I live, 19 residents engaged in enjoyable practices rooted in kindness and hospitality. Together we reflected on what it means to live in community with shared resources and to imagine taking committed actions for the common good of all.

Our community is diverse . . .

Posted by Sheryl Johnson on December 16, 2019

On November 19, 2019, students, staff, and faculty from the Graduate Theological Union and wider Berkeley, California, community came together for a workshop on democracy. Through rituals and conversation, we considered this question: "Can spiritual practice strengthen democracy?"

After introducing ourselves . . .

Posted by Ada Renee Williams on December 9, 2019

February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

Toni Morrison died on Monday, August 5, 2019. Our cohort gathered on Wednesday, August 7, for a three-day intensive. With such a seismic loss, we shifted our planned agenda to honor Morrison and allow her work to guide our intensive.

First, each participant selected a favorite passage from a novel of the Morrison Canon to share with the group. Next, we used the same or another passage to expound on one of the topics of our gathering: de-centering whiteness, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, examples or challenges of cultural productions of evil.

Morrison's fifth novel, Beloved ...

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About This Blog

Democracy is more than a system of government; it is a way of life. We can assess the vitality of a democracy by how well it is serving the people's needs and hopes. But a democracy's health is best reflected in examples of how people practice it through their commitments to shared values and virtues. In this blog, we will present stories of democracy-in-practice. More.

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