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POWELL — Braver Angels, a national organization with hopes of facilitating civil political discourse, has recently become active in Park County, with their first Wyoming workshop taking place in Cody last fall and plans for more in the works.

The organization pulls its name from Lincoln’s first inaugural address which references the “better angels of our nature.”

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,” Lincoln said in his inaugural address. “The mystic chords of memory will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Braver Angels was founded following the 2016 presidential elections which, according to the Braver Angels website, was “one of the most divisive elections in our history.”

Braver Angels’ goal is to encourage calm discussion between members of differing political views.

One way its members work toward accomplishing this goal is through Red/Blue workshops. These workshops invite local leaders from different ages, professions and political affiliations. The invited participants are equally balanced between Republicans and Democrats, and they’re encouraged to discuss their viewpoints without being defensive or persuasive.

The workshops also take participants through training and activities designed to help them learn how to discuss viewpoints and understand differing viewpoints.

Right now, Braver Angels has event coordinators in every state.

There is also a Braver Angels podcast, along with numerous other events hosted by Braver Angels.

The Cody workshop at the Irma Hotel was sponsored by Wyoming Rising, a local nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that encourages civil discourse and participation in government.

The workshop had 15 participants that were invited with the purpose of having diverse viewpoints in the same room, according to Ronn Smith who was a volunteer organizer for the workshop.

Smith is currently helping to organize a Powell workshop this October that already has 13 participants signed up. Smith expects that 15 or 16 people will end up participating come October.

“The Braver Angels just allowed us to do something here,” Smith said. “I think the solution to polarization starts locally and it starts with local leaders.”

While the in-person workshops in the Park County area are by invitation only, Smith said that anyone can participate in workshops online. People who are interested in attending an event, learning more or volunteering can visit braverangels.org.

This story was published on Sept. 13, 2022.

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