At Civil Squared, we’re optimists, and we’re looking forward to 2022!

In order to make 2022 a better year, we revisited some of the best ideas we heard in 2021 because we think you’ll be able to apply them in the new year and beyond.

Through the course of last year, we talked to interesting and thoughtful guests on several topics, including, among others: how to handle bigots and snowflakes, the wide-reaching impacts of education policy, internet censorship, race and diversity, what it means to be American, why it’s ok to speak your mind, healthcare innovation and policy reform, immigration, factors that make college so expensive, ideological diversity and the importance of having conversations with those who are different than you, political polarization, criminal justice reform and the need for compassion toward formerly incarcerated individuals, the high costs of incarceration, transitional justice theory, tools to understand and navigate media bias, bridging divides, and the importance of preserving the ability for America to self-govern.

And in every conversation, it kept coming back to the importance and power of local-level involvement and individuals improving their own communities. We’d love to see more of that in 2022, and we hope you’ll find inspiration for the new year in this episode!

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Show Notes:

In this compilation episode you’ll hear inspiring snippets from our conversations with the following guests:

Grant Callen, founder and CEO of Empower Mississippi – He discusses the high economic and human costs of incarceration and how this affects families and communities across America. He discusses the importance of building broad, diverse coalitions to make a difference at the local level.

Tony Kitchens, board member of Georgia Center for Opportunity and consulting producer of First Week Out – During the conversation, Tony shares his personal experience about the “second prison” many formerly incarcerated individuals face while on the outside: a mental prison created on their own. He also discusses what individuals can do to help the formerly incarcerated more effectively reintegrate into their communities.

Colleen Murphy, University of Illinois Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, and Director of Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program – Colleen discusses transitional justice theory and explains how, even at the local level, we won’t be able to move forward if we don’t deal with the past in the present.

 Tony Woodlief, Author of I, Citizen: A Blueprint for Reclaiming American Self-Governance – During the conversation, Tony shares stories from his book and discusses political polarization, incentives of the political class, and practical tips for people to make a difference in their communities and reclaim their ability to self-govern.

Take a listen, and if you find one particularly valuable, you might enjoy the rest of that episode too!

About our guests:

Grant is a sixth generation Mississippian who grew up in Laurel. He founded Empower Mississippi in 2014 as a solution center, tackling Mississippi’s biggest challenges so everyone can rise. Previously, Grant served as Director of Development for the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. He is an alumnus of The Witherspoon Fellowship in Washington D.C.

Grant graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Belhaven University and was selected as their “Young Alumnus of the Year” in 2009. Grant earned an M.A in Government from Regent University. Grant has been named to the Top 50 Most Influential Mississippians list by Y’all Politics. Grant currently lives in Madison with his wife Page and their five children. Grant and Page are members of Redeemer Church, PCA, where Grant serves as an elder.

Tony Kitchens is currently a board member of the Georgia Center for Opportunity and Georgia Field Director for Prison Fellowship. He has also worked with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry, the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the Georgia Department of Community Supervisions. He is a husband, father and, most recently, a grandfather. 

Colleen is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy & Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also serves as Director of the Women & Gender in Global Perspectives Program in the Illinois Global Institute.   

She received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and BA in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. 

Her expertise is in political philosophy, jurisprudence, and engineering ethics. 

Her research focuses on transitional justice and risk. She is interested in the justice of dealing with systemic wrongdoing- past and present- and the moral dimensions of risk analysis and risk mitigation. 

Tony Woodlief is a political science expert and executive vice president at State Policy Network, an organization that has a long history of building state-based groups and leaders. SPN believes states and communities, not Washington, DC, can better solve the problems that matter most to American families. That’s why SPN advances state-based solutions to public policy issues. In I, Citizen, Tony conducted extensive research on American public opinion to find out what Americans believe and uncover the source of their political animosities. Tony is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan and an MFA from Wichita State University. He currently resides in North Carolina with his wife and six children.