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This Group Gets Democrats and Republicans to Do Something Radical: Talk to Each Other

Better Angels is doing the saintly work of getting liberals and conservatives in the same room—and teaching them to play nice.

SLIDESHOW

Kathryn MacDonald

(1 of 6)

Lee Robbins

(2 of 6)

Les Plack

(3 of 6)

Monty Worth

(4 of 6)

Leslie Lopato

(5 of 6)

Constance Bernstein

(6 of 6)

See all the Affinities photo shoots here.

Some of the people pictured above are Republicans. Some are Democrats. You probably can’t tell who’s who, and for the organizers behind Better Angels, that’s exactly the point. “The people on the other side are not evil—they aren’t demons,” says Leslie Lopato, who co-moderated a recent workshop for the San Francisco chapter of the group.

The volunteer-run organization aims to bring people of differing political stripes together and teach them constructive communication skills. “It gives people an opportunity to get out of their little bubble and look at the other group as human beings,” Lopato says. A workshop in Alameda in late September included about 25 people, and instead of debating hot-button issues, the attendees were asked to identify stereotypes about their political tribe and talk about how those assumptions made them feel.

Lopato is hoping to organize another event in preparation for the holidays, when cranky uncles and loudmouth cousins tend to trade barbs over the dinner table. Says Lopato, “I want to call the workshop ‘Are You Ready for Thanksgiving Dinner?’”

 

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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