Bridging divides is not about being on the same page; it’s about being able to disagree well. And it all relies on one very important foundation: a trusting relationship.

On this episode of the Civil Squared podcast, host Jennifer Thompson is joined by founder and CEO of The Village Square, Liz Joyner, to discuss the importance of building trust before you try and build out bridges between disagreements on contentious issues.

Liz discusses how our relationships with each other across ideological differences are the foundation of our democracy. She’s spent the past 15 years working to facilitate a flourishing civil society in Tallahassee, Florida where she regularly holds events that bring the community together across differences to build trust and understanding.

You’ll hear her talk about how our democracy is designed to work because of our differences and not in-spite of them. And how coming together to bridge divides is not about being on the same page, but about disagreeing well, so that we can all help each other see our blind spots and avoid problems.

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About our guest:

Liz Joyner is the executive director of the Village Square, a nonprofit dedicated to reviving civic connections across divisions inside American communities. Named by former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe as one of eight organizations to support if you’re concerned about the deepening partisan divide, the Village Square has received support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Reid Hoffman Foundation and was the recipient of the 2015 Statewide Impact Award from Leadership Florida.

Liz has a Masters Degree in Social Work, conceptualizing the Village Square after her experience working in politics convinced her that the way we work out our disagreements in today’s public square is fundamentally flawed. She was nominated by Leadership Tallahassee as Leader of the Year in 2010, named by the Tallahassee Democrat as one of “25 Women You Need to Know” in 2015, by the Girls Scouts as a “Woman of Distinction” in 2016 and was honored by United Church Women as a Woman of Peace. She is also a Knight Foundation Fellow, a participant in the 2015 Conclave on Political Polarization.