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Oh the places you’ll go

My eyes lingered on a short, quick tweet awhile before I realized it was one of the most delightfully curious compliments I’d ever seen. It came when journalist Amanda Ripley, author of High Conflict, thanked Claudia Chwalisz, founder of the very promising civic org DemocracyNext, for ideas she wrote up in a quick post. “This is lovely,” Amanda wrote. “Led me to places I had not been.” Led me to places I had not been…

That phrase about sums up the rewards of the kind of open, curious conversation where we find new angles on things just by tracing each other’s perspectives. It also sums up the eye-opening adventure I’ve had these last 12 months. It’s led me to literal places I’d never been to in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, California, Rhode Island, Delaware, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, New York, Washington, North Carolina, Washington D.C., New Mexico, Connecticut, and Vermont — with more new spots to hit in 2023, including in Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. But it’s also taken me on a tour of lives I haven’t lived but got the absolute privilege to learn from. Like the pro-life activist in California who introduced me to her acquaintance, a pro-choice activist; the woman in Vermont who’s so grateful for friends who didn’t give up on her as she extricated herself from the cult she’d grown up in; the man in Ohio whose family vacation turned upside-down when they learned who one of them had voted for; the city councilmembers in Ohio who forged a banter-filled partnership across the aisle; and the woman in Arkansas who channels the pain from losing a lifelong friend over politics to making sure no one else she knows ever does. Everyone I’ve met has different beliefs and different concerns, but shares the same craving to hear and be heard by the people around them, despite the barriers. I’m so grateful for all the support, and can’t wait to see where you'll take me — and all of us — in Year 2. 😎

— Moni


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