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Move for America’s Breakfast Benefit—Written Edition

On Thursday, May 7th, 60 people entered a room, filled their plates from a small but stunning breakfast buffet and seated themselves. When they left an hour and a half later, they came away with a deeper understanding of Move for America's forward momentum and current magic--its Fellowship program, bridge-building initiatives, and the philosophy underpinning day-to-day operations. They spoke. They listened. They asked questions. They became, even if for just that moment, a part of something larger than themselves, embodying the power that comes from people approaching lines of difference with intent to understand, discuss, and empower one another. This blog is an offering of gratitude to all who came, a summary for all who could only be there in spirit, and, perhaps most of all, a recognition of where the organization has been and where we're going. Find yourself a comfortable seat--grab some breakfast of your own, perhaps--as we share  a few highlights from this event.



First, a Chance to Deepen, Not Debate


Bridging requires practice. So, after introductory remarks, Move for America Executive Director Libby Stegger invited the audience into practice with an exercise she calls “Deepen, not Debate.”  It was a chance to see, hear, and feel the impact of the conversations we try to foster with every Move for America experience. Libby invited guests to find a partner at their table and, after a few quick reminders of good active listening practice, posed the question, “What does the symbol of the American flag mean to you? Why?”  The conversation was split into two five-minute segments, with listener and speaker switching at the halfway point. This format was very successful, as discussions were still going strong when timing dictated we move to the next segment of programming. Even better, many of these conversations continued as people dispersed at the event’s conclusion. It was a lovely moment, a time of holding space for plural perspectives, and we dearly hope that everyone gained a bit of new knowledge from that experience, be it about others, themselves, or the work we do. From this place of exploration, we transitioned into discussing our Fellowship and those currently serving within it.


Fellows’ Words of Wisdom


Two Fellows spoke about their experience and answered audience questions after. Haakon Lehn took to the stage first, eloquently telling stories of what bridging divides meant in his own life, both before and after entering into his Fellowship year working with the Initiative Foundation—a thriving resource for entrepreneurs all across Central Minnesota. To him, seeking a more multipartisan world, seeing beyond the ways media and assumption seek to divide us from one another, is the way to truly form a powerful, just society, an America that everyone can be proud to call home. Next, Move for America communications Fellow Jessica Hodges explained the deep connection she saw between bridging divides and cultivating a world built upon peace, the kind of peace that comes from equity and care, rather than silencing. She admitted that she was uncertain, as someone uneasy around conflict, of whether this work would be for her, but expressed gratitude for the myriad of ways the Fellowship has taught her just how much conflict can be aided by the sorts of concepts Move for America embodies at its core, thanking everyone in the audience for coming and being a part of making that peace a growing part of reality. After both speeches concluded, the two Fellows took a few really lovely, insightful questions from the audience before Libby stepped onto the stage once more to give a sneak peek at future plans.


Future Plans!!!


Move for America is always…well, moving! There will always be future plans around the corner. This year, we’re so excited to share that we were a winner of a Civics grant from the Minnesota Humanities Center with support from Minnesota State Legacy Funds, which will enable us to kickstart a curriculum for high school students designed to engage them in community and civic thinking while increasing their agency and competency when tackling issues that matter to them. There are many classes about governmental structure and the more traditional aspects of civics education, but we want to take things deeper, to help let young adults know that a plural society is possible. Entitled Beyond Civics, our after-school program will equip young people with the skills to actively engage with their communities both within and outside government spaces in pursuit of a more just and peaceful society.


We also have plans to hold an intercultural exchange program for students from urban and rural campuses in the Spring of 2025. Held over two weekends, half of the program will take place on or near the Minnesota Sate Fergus Falls campus, the other at Normandale Community College. Students will take turns being host and guest as they learn about both communities, participate in communication workshops, and grow connected with the topics affecting each region. Please stay tuned for updates on both of these new programs, as we’ll have a lot to say about them in the coming months!


And that’s a wrap. Thank you!


This brought us to the end of our program, and near the end of this blog. Now, just as in the moment of its conclusion, we feel so much gratitude. Gratitude for everyone who thinks this work matters enough to come alongside us, and particularly for Jill Konrath of What’s Really Possible for sponsoring this event and speaking about her bridging initiative, and Move for America’s Board Chair Ellie Lucas who both sponsored the event and emceed. We are grateful for the Board Members who give all we do such dedicated support, for North House who hosted us, for every organization who hosts a Fellow and, of course, the Fellows themselves. And thank you to the nearly 60 individuals who donated to Move for America in support of this event. Our spring campaign is ongoing. You may donate

We are nothing without the bridges we have to community in all its forms, bridges to those looking to make the world better, less polarized, more peaceful and just. If you would like to be a part of this work, you can subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on social media below, host a Fellow, or make a donation.

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